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Downtown TIF board ads another leg to now $1.53 million bond proposal

LACONIA — The Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Advisory Board yesterday agreed to ask the City Council to authorize a borrowing of $1,530,000 to fund construction of stretches of the WOW Trail and downtown riverwalk.

Earlier the TIF Advisory Board proposed a package of seven projects with a price tag of $1,350,000 that included $400,000 to extend the WOW Trail between Main Street and Fair Street, $25,000 to add signage and kiosks to the riverwalk and WOW Trail, $181,000 to connect the Main Street Bridge to the riverwalk behind the Landmark Inn, $121,800 to extend the riverwalk through the adjacent Walgreen's property, and $300,000 to carry the riverwalk from behind the old police station, now studios of the Binnie Media Group, up to the Church Street bridge. Moreover, the council agreed in August to spend $275,000 improving the "Gateway Plaza" at the foot of Main Street and in October to spending $35,000 to extend a 10 inch water main from Main Street to Veteran's Square to service the former Evangelical Baptist Church, which is being converted to a restaurant.
This week the TIF Advisory Board agreed to add to its package by including the last segment of the riverwalk at Beacon Street West, the former Allen-Rogers property, where it joins the Main Street Bridge. The board estimated the cost of the project at $164,000.
When the TIF Advisory Board presented its proposal to the council last week some were surprised to find that the route of the riverwalk through Beacon Street West was not included and that the original route had been altered. Both the Main Street Initiative and several councilors openly favored completing the riverwalk along the north bank of the river before investing in segments along the south bank.
Originally Chinburg Builders, the developer of Beacon Street West, intended to reconstruct a building over the mouth of the Perley Canal that collapsed under a snowload and incorporate the riverwalk in the project as a cantilevered walkway over the water. However, the firm abandoned it plan to rebuild and instead chose to convert the large commercial building on the property to apartments. As part of its site plan, Chinburg proposed an alternate route for the riverwalk, which the Planning Board approved in 2008. Instead of following the riverbank, the pathway would pass through the residential complex to join Beacon Street West significantly north of the bridge.
In a memorandum to the council the, Main Street Initiative urged the TIF Advisory Board to complete the section of the riverwalk connecting Beacon Street West to its original design.
When the board met this week, attorney Pat Wood reminded members that the easement for the riverwalk granted by Chinburg Builders is 15 feet along the bank of the river. At the same time, City Manager Scott Myers recalled that when the council considered the project a week ago Jack Terrill, speaking as a condominium owner at Beacon Street West, said that the riverwalk should be fenced on the north side to prevent trespassing. Noting that the alternative route proposed by Chinburg Builders and approved by the Planning Board would take the riverwalk through the midst of the complex, he expected residents would prefer that the route follow the riverbank as originally intended.
Planning Director Shanna Saunders agreed to approach Chinburg about returning to the original route and applying funds allocated to the alternative route to its construction.
Altogether the estimated cost of the projects is $1,530,000, which includes the fees for preparing and selling a general obligation bond and and a small amount for contingencies. The funds would be borrowed against the annual revenue to the TIF account at an estimated interest rate of four-percent over 20 years. The TIF account has a current balance of $311,353 and projected revenue of $173,687 in 2014 and an additional amount each year thereafter for a total of $4,250,212 during the next 20 years. City Manager Scott Myers has assured the council that the revenue accruing to the TIF fund is sufficient to service the proposed debt and, within a reasonable time, support another borrowing.
The City Council will consider the board's proposal at a special meeting beginning at 6 p.m., prior to its regularly scheduled meeting, on Monday, December 23.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 01:52

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Sting allegedly catches Belmont man selling pot inside village store

BELMONT — Police arrested a local man who allegedly walked into the Belmont Village Store Tuesday and told the employees he had a lot of marijuana and was willing to sell it to any employees who wanted some.

William Fort, Jr., 30, of 41 Depot St. had also been ordered on November 8 by Judge Jim Carroll not to enter the Village Store, however the reason for the order is not known.

Fort is charged with one count of sales of a controlled drug and one count of breach of bail. After his video appearance, Carroll released Fort Jr. on $5,000 personal recognizance bail with the condition that he remain on house arrest and follow other bail conditions including no alcohol consumption, firearms or other dangerous weapons.

Police affidavits said that someone from the store reported Fort's attempt to sell marijuana to the police, who told the person to call again if he returned to the store and he would be nearby.

Ultimately, the officer waited for Fort, Jr. in the back room of the store and positioned himself where he could remain out of site but still see one of the back room storage areas.

When Fort returned, the person entered the back room and the officer witnessed the transaction, saying he saw Fort, Jr. take a small baggie from his pocket and take $20 from the person.

Fort, Jr. allegedly left the store immediately and when the officer caught up to him in the parking lot, he was getting into a light blue car and was taken into custody without incident.

While being searched at the Belknap County Jail, correction officers allegedly found a baggie identical to the one Fort allegedly previously sold. Fort, Jr. told police he forgot it was there.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 01:46

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Main Street Bridge project bids opened; city's decision to wait seems to have paid off

LACONIA — After the bids to reconstruct the Main Street Bridge over the Winnipesaukee River were opened yesterday, City Manager Scott Myers said that he was "comfortable that the project could be undertaken within the time frame and financial parameters we anticipated."

When the project was first put to bid in March, all eight bids were approximately 35-percent above the estimate of $2.3 million prepared by Dubois & King, Inc., consulting engineers, with the lowest bid at $3.15 million. Moreover, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), which was expected to contribute 80 percent of the cost, found itself strapped for funds and capped its share at a flat dollar amount, doubling the cost born by the city to $1.6 million.

At the time, Myers proposed two options. The city could accept the low bid, award the contract and start work this year. Alternatively, the project could be delayed a year, when federal funds would become available through the Municipal Owned Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement program would become available. The DOT projected the cost to rise by 10 percent to about $4.1-million and agreed to increase its share by $800,000, leaving the city to contribute a little more than $1 million.

The City Council chose to defer the project and the bids received yesterday confirmed the wisdom of its choice. There were four bids, half as many as were submitted in March. Beck & Bellucci, Inc. of Franklin bid $3,897,120, New England Infrastructure, Inc. of Hudson, Massachusetts $3,693,361, R.S. Audley, Inc. of Bow $3,314,177 and R.M. Piper, Inc. of Plymouth $3,299,304.

Bob Durfee of Dubois & King stressed that each of the bids will be evaluated before determining the low bidder and recommending a contractor to both the City Council and DOT. He estimated the contract would be awarded in four or five weeks.

Meyers said that the DOT has estimated the cost of the project, including design and engineering, at $4,027,721, to which the state will contribute $3,062,326, or 76 percent. However, the DOT will pay only to reconstruct the bridge to its original design. Therefore, in addition to the balance of the estimated cost of $965,394 the city will also bear the cost of modifications it requested, primarily widening the approach to the span from Beacon Street West as well as improvements to the "Gateway Plaza" at the foot of Main Street.

Meyers said that to match financial projections the bids for the construction work, including the modifications requested by the city, were expected to fall around $3,456,000. "Since two of the four bids are below that number, the raw numbers look favorable," he said, adding that he would have an opportunity to study the numbers more closely in the coming weeks.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 01:41

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Police want 2nd-hand shop under pawnshop law

LACONIA — Police are looking to put some more teeth into the city's pawnshop ordinance by adding secondhand merchandise dealers to the list of businesses that must report daily to them.

Only secondhand dealers who buy merchandise from the general public would be included.

The proposed ordinance, that must be approved by the Laconia Licensing Board and approved by the City Council, stemmed in part from a Problem Oriented Policing (POP) project on non-retail crime.

"The more strict it is, the better protected everybody is," said Patrol Officer Lindsey Legere who along with Det. Dan Carson spoke yesterday to the Police Commission about non-retail theft and how to prevent it.

The non-retail theft category for the purposes of the POP project includes thefts from cars, homes, and other personal business, burglary, and robbery.

The proposed ordinance would stiffen the record keeping requirements for pawnbrokers and secondhand dealers by requiring them to record the date and time of the purchase; the amount of money or loan and interest rate on each exchange; the name and address of seller or pledger; the type of article, the brand name, serial number, and model number of the item, if applicable; and the color and finish including any other identifying marks and engravings.

As it applies to jewelry, if passed, the new ordinance would require the type of metal, the kind of stones, and the karat weight (if known) of each item.

All records would be kept on file for seven years and property must be maintained in its original condition for the 14-day waiting period. All property would be kept on the store premises.

Police are also recommending that each seller or pledger present a valid drivers license or other form of government identification. All identification must be issued within the last five years and the dealer must record the information on the record sheet and attach a copy of it to the transaction record.

Many of the above provisions already exist under the state laws that govern and regulate pawnshops and second-hand dealers and police said the modeled their proposed ordinance after ones already in Manchester and Nashua.

Capt. Bill Clary said the proposed ordinance will be presented to the Licensing Board sometime in January and will likely undergo a legal review by the City Attorney before it moves forward to the City Council.

NOTES: Outgoing Mayor Mike Seymour stopped by to thank the Laconia Police and the Police Commissioners for all the help they had given him during his two terms.

He said the mayor doesn't have much of a direct impact on the police but the police have a direct impact on the mayor, saying his desk was the "last stop."

"During my four years, I'm proud to say not one issue has come from the Laconia Police Department," Seymour said, adding that the majority of the feedback he got was about how good the city Police Department is.

"I deeply appreciate and honor you for the work you have done," he said.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 December 2013 01:35

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