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Every aspect of Meredith roundabouts plan questioned by critics

MEREDITH — Of all the towns around Lake Winnipesaukee, none have undergone greater change in the past few decades than Meredith, yet the prospect of reconfiguring the flow of traffic through town has met with stiff and spirited opposition in anticipation of a public hearing on the plan next week.

The U.S. Route 3/N.H. Route 25 Advisory Committee, chaired by Selectman Lou Kahn and composed of city officials, residents and business owners, has recommended constructing three roundabouts, which it believes will mitigate, but not eliminate, congestion during the summer months while slowing traffic and providing crosswalks to ease the movement of pedestrians.

Opposition to the plan is intense and widespread. A petition urging the Board of Selectmen to scuttle the proposal has collected hundreds of signatures. A handful of letter writers to local newspapers have questioned virtually every aspect of the proposal and asked residents to urge the selectmen to reject it.

The committee proposes replacing the traffic signal at the junction of Routes 3 and 25 with a single lane roundabout and constructing two other single lane roundabouts, one at Lake Street and another at Pleasant Street. The roundabout at the 3/25 intersection will have two right turn lanes to carry northbound traffic from Rte. 3 eastbound on Rte. 25. Traffic islands on Rte. 3 would forestall left turns in and out of Dover Street and on Rte. 25 would forestall left turns in or out of Meredith Village Savings Bank and the Hannaford shopping center.

The roundabout at Lake Street will enable northbound traffic on Rte. 3 to turn on to Lake Street and traffic on Lake Street to turn either southbound or northbound on to Rte. 3. The roundabout at Pleasant Street will include a driveway leading to the parking lots of both Meredith Village Savings Bank and the shopping center, enabling traffic on Rte. 25 to enter and exit without making left turns.

Each of the roundabouts will have crosswalks designed to enable pedestrians to cross one lane of traffic at a time. There will also be a crosswalk at Dover Street where a center island on Rte. 3 will enable pedestrians to cross one lane of traffic at a time. The crosswalks are not expected to significantly slow the flow of traffic on Rte. 3.

The construction costs, which the DOT estimates at $5 million, would be financed by a $4-million federal grant awarded to the DOT supplemented by state funding. The state would also fund the cost land acquisition. The town would not contribute to the construction budget, but would be responsible for the maintenance of any landscaping of the roundabouts and median strips.

Critics have fastened on issues raised by town officials at a meeting with Gene McCarthy of McFarland Johnson, Inc., the project manager, and representatives of DOT in December. Dan Leonard, superintendent of the Water and Sewer Department expressed concern about the impact on underground utilities. Fire Chief Ken Jones feared that the roundabouts and median strips would hinder the movement of emergency vehicles, slowing response times. Mike Faller, director of Public Works, questioned landscaping the median strips, recommending concrete, which would enable emergency vehicles to cross and reduce the cost of maintenance.

McCarthy indicated that these concerns could be addressed by the final design of the project. However, he noted that while every effort will be made to avoid impacts on municipal utilities, if they must be relocated, the town would bear the cost.

Other opponents have claimed that there is no data to indicate that the roundabouts will either improve the flow of traffic or enhance the safety of motiorists. "Everyone is in favor of eliminating congestion," wrote Marc Abear, but what does the engineering show about the outcome?" Likewise, Abear acknowledges that roundabouts may be appropriate at particular intersections, but insists no evidence has been presented to show that the three are dangerous, congested or complex.

Karen Sticht noted that the proposed traffic patter, by eliminating left turns, will compel drivers to circle a roundabout and backtrack to their destination. "I am prone to motion sickness and driving in circles makes me nauseous," she wrote, perhaps tongue in cheek. Moreover, she observed that roundabouts are cluttered with directional signs — 20 at each, she claimed — which will make the lakefront corridor "confusing and ugly."

Kahn, who has made the rounds speaking to civic groups in support of the proposal, stresses that it will mitigate congestion during the summer months, enhance conditions for pedestrians and improve the flow of traffic at the shopping center. He said that the committee considered a number of alternatives, including a dozen options considered "reasonable" by the first advisory committee, which convened in 2006 and reported in 2009. Traffic flows for each option were modeled using current and projected traffic volumes.

"There is no perfect solution," Kahn said, adding that "critics of the proposal insist that without am absolutely perfect solution there should be no change."

Kahn said that the system of three roundabouts "solves the issue of congestion to the extent it can be solved," explaining that none of alternatives would overcome the problem. Northbound traffic turning east on Rte. 25 on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, he said, would be much less congested while westbound traffic turning south on Rte. 3 may remain congested, but move continuously without the traffic signal.

Kahn conceded that a two lane roundabout at the intersection of 3/25 would have a greater impact on congestion, but only at the expense of properties surrounding the junction and perhaps also Scenic Park.

Kahn said DOT expects slower moving traffic will enable pedestrians to cross without causing significant delays. Likewise, the median strip will enable pedestrians crossing Rte. 3 at Dover Street to cross one lane at a time. while traffic will not stop in both directions at once.

He also said that along with improving conditions for motorists and pedestrians, he believes that with appropriate landscaping the improved roadway will significantly enhance the appearance of the waterfront. He noted that in Manchester, Vermont a roundabout faced fierce opposition from residents, whose opinion changed once the project was complete as they found it easy to negotiate and pleasing to the eye.

The town has wrestled with easing congestion on summer weekends intermittently since 1975, when the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed widening Route 3 and Route 25 to six lanes along the waterfront. In 2006 the first 3/25 Advisory Committee was convened to address the length of the corridor from the Rte. 104 intersection to the Center Harbor town line, a distance of 4.2 miles. After three years, the committee winnowed the range of options to 10 "reasonable" alternatives without offering s specific proposal. In 2013 a second advisory committee was convened and the scope of the project was shrunk to the one mile and 1,000 foot stretch from the intersection of 3/104 to Pleasant Street.

The public hearing will be held on Monday, January 26 in the auditorium at Inter-Lakes High School beginning at 6 p.m.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 12:49

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Alleged robber had friend working at targeted restaurant

LACONIA — The Plymouth man who allegedly robbed D'Angelo's restaurant in December may have had inside help, according to city police affidavits made available yesterday after his appearance in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division.

Police said that Brian Moore, of 34 Marie Way #17, has a female friend who is an employee of the Laconia D'Angelo's and that she was working on December 23 — the night of the robbery.

Moore faces one count of unarmed robbery, two counts of witness tampering and one count of driving after revocation.

Police affidavits filed with the court said Moore's female friend was interviewed by police and told them that in November or December the two had been joking around about possibly robbing D'Angelo's. She said at some point, the conversation progressed into something more serious.

On the day of the robbery, the woman allegedly told Moore that it was really busy as well as telling him that a co-worker would be leaving through the back door at closing time, which is the opening the robber, wearing a mask, used to gain entrance to the building.

She said Moore was driving her vehicle that night and that he parked in a commercial parking lot across Union Avenue and waited for the restaurant to close. After the unarmed robbery, she told police that Moore was the man who came to pick her up from work and that he arrived while police were still at D'Angelos conducting their investigation.

Later she is said to have told police that after he picked her up, he  told her he was the one who committed the robbery.

The woman also said that Moore allegedly asked her to lie to police twice about his whereabouts on that night. She said he asked her to say he was with his children and that he was in Plymouth.

Laconia Prosecutor Jim Sawyer argued for $5,000 cash, saying the robbery was premeditated, "brazen" and serious. He said that Moore had numerous traffic incidents in his past, including multiple convictions for driving after a license suspension.

Sawyer said he has convictions for filing a false report to police, issuing a bad check and a drug possession conviction.

Defense Attorney Eric Wolpin said Moore should be released on personal recognizance bail because he was living with his mother in Plymouth and was not a flight risk. Wolpin added Moore has four children in the area.

Wolpin also argued that Moore is not a violent man and has nothing on his record to indicate he is a physical threat to anyone.

Judge Jim Carroll said that Moore allegedly committed a premeditated robbery and that in his opinion, Moore represented a danger to society.

He was ordered held on $5,000 cash-only bail and not to have any contact with the woman who allegedly helped him, with the other employees at D'Angelos that night, and to stay away from all D'Angelos stores and property.

He also ordered him not to drive unless his license gets reinstated.

Moore's female friend has not been charged with a crime in connection with the robbery.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 12:39

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Belknap County Grand Jury returns 42 indictments, half for drug charges

SUPERIOR COURT — Belknap County Grand Jury Indictments handed down January 8:

Jorge D. Arini was indicted for one count of possession of a narcotic drug after an investigation by the Belknap County Sheriff's Department.

Richard E. Audette was indicted for one count of possession of a narcotic drug after an investigation by Sanbornton Police.

Matthew Boynton was indicted for one count of sales of a controlled drug after an investigation by Laconia Police.

Derek Camerato, was indicted for one count of attempted burglary after an investigation by Laconia Police.

Tracy Ann Colby was indicted for one count of theft by unauthorized taking after an investigation by Laconia Police.

Stephen G. Cote was indicted for once count of forgery after an investigation by Laconia Police and one count of organized retail crime after an investigation by Tilton Police.

Amber Cowen was indicted for one count of theft after an investigation by Tilton Police.

Corey Cromwell was indicted for one count of receiving stolen property, one count of resisting arrest and one count of disobeying a police officer after allegedly fleeing from Laconia Police at a high rate of speed in a stolen car.

Jeffrey Douillette was indicted for two counts of sales of a controlled drug after an investigation by the N.H. Drug Task Force.

Kenneth Eddings was indicted for one count of theft and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card after an investigation by Meredith Police.

Steven R. Fereshtian was indicted for three counts of possession of controlled drugs after an investigation by Laconia Police.

Christine Fowler was indicted for one count of possession of narcotic drugs after a Laconia Police investigation.
Heather Gayton was indicted for two counts of theft after an investigation by Tilton Police.

Robert R. Gonthier was indicted for one count of conspiracy sale sale of a controlled drug and conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine after a joint investigation by the N.H. Drug Task Force and the Gilmanton Police.

Kyle Harriman was indicted for one count of possession of a controlled drug after a Belmont Police investigation.

Scott Hodgman was indicted for one count of possession of controlled drugs after a Laconia Police investigation.

Michael Johnson was indicted for one count of theft after a Tilton Police investigation.

Joseph Kaplan was indicted for one count of possession of a controlled drug, the controlled drug act and acts prohibited after a N.H. State Police investigation.

Pedro Lebron was indicted for one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault after a Tilton Police investigation.

David Magliozzi was indicted for one count of bail jumping after an investigation by the Belknap County Sheriffs Department.

Patricia McLeod was indicted for one count of forgery after an investigation by Laconia Police.

Dylan W. Miles was indicted for once count of theft after a Belmont Police investigation.

Jennifer L. Mitchell was indicted for once count of possession of controlled drugs after a Belmont Police investigation.

Hayden A. Moon was indicted for two counts of sale of a controlled drug after a Tilton Police investigation.

Alexis L. Morin was indicted for one count of sale of a controlled drug after a Laconia Police investigation.
Onella Nguan was indicted for one count of possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute and one count of conspiracy sale of a controlled drug after a Laconia Police investigation.

Cameron M. Nichols was indicted for one count of organized retail crime enterprise and one count of possession of a narcotic drug after a Tilton Police investigation.

Julie Paquet was indicted for one count of organized retail crime enterprise after a Tilton Police investigation.

David A Paul was indicted for one count of sale of a controlled drug.

Jonathan Rawlins was indicted for conspiracy sale of controlled drugs, four counts of sales of a controlled drug, and one count of attempt to manufacture methamphetamine after a N.H. Drug Task Force investigation.

Bryan Royal was indicted for one count of possession of a controlled drug after a Belmont Police investigation.

Anne-Marie Ruggles was indicted with one count of forgery following a Tilton Police investigation.

Adam Scarsilloni was indicted for one count of receiving stolen property following a Gilford Police investigation.

Eric Sellar was charged with two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault after a Tilton Police investigation.

Bountham Sonthikoummane was indicted with one count of possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute and one count of conspiracy sale of a controlled drug.

Philip Spitz was indicted for one count of second degree assault after a Laconia Police investigation.

Kevin Szydlowski was charged with possession of a narcotic drug after a Meredith Police investigation.

Richard J. Varricchio was indicted with three count of forgery, one count of possession of a controlled drug and one count of attempted forgery following a Gilford Police investigation.

Susan M. Weeks was indicted for one count of sale of a controlled drug following a Laconia Police Investigation.

Sarah Zareas was indicted for one count of organized retail crime enterprise after a Tilton Police investigation.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 02:27

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County receives another $28,305 in legal bills

LACONIA — Belknap County's legal bills for 2014 are now approaching the $100,000 mark with more than $60,000 still unpaid.
Belknap County commissioners, meeting last night at the Belknap County Complex, said that they will wait until a third commissioner is appointed to the board before tackling the unpaid legal bill situation, which was described by Chairman Richard Burchell as ''very hard to fathom".
Burchell revealed that the county faces nearly $30,000 in recently received legal bills, $5,456 from the Drummond Woodsum law firm which represented the commission at a hearing on the dismissal of Belknap County Nursing Home Adminstrator Mathew Logue, $12,600 from the lawyer who represented the Belknap County Convention in its lawsuit against the commissioners over line item budget authority and another $10,429 in a personnel matter case. The source of the last bill was not mentioned.
The commisioners declined last week to endorse a 2014 budget transfer request to the convention's Executive Committee for $31,852.54 to pay the county's legal bills which had been received between October 31 and the end of the year. That request had been made by the board that left office on December 31.
Legal bills which have been paid through the end of the year total $39,574.59 and many of those relate to the year-long struggle between the former commissioners and the convention over line item budget authority.
Burchell said that it has been suggested that some of the legal bills might be ''jawboned'' in an attempt to lower them and said that he was not comfortable approving payments for something he didn't understand.
Commissioner Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton) said that he wanted to ''wait until we have put together an investigative committee'' before making any recommendations to the convention's Executive Committee about the unpaid legal bills.
The deadline for people to apply to the Belknap County Convention for the vacant two-year spot on the commission is Friday, Jan. 23 at noon. Candidates are asked to provide a cover letter and a resume to the County Administrator's office and the convention plans to conduct public interviews before making a decision.
Commissioners did agree to recommend several 2014 budget transfers to the Executive Committee which is scheduled to meet next Monday at 5 p.m.
Those included $5,200 to pay legal fees incurred by former Belknap County Register of Deeds Barbara Luther in 2011 when she was sued by the commission in an effort to make her comply with recommendations made by an auditing firm hired by the county. In 2013 the county convention appropriated $5,200 to pay Luther's fees but the former commissioners refused to release a check to her.
Other transfer requests include one for $260 to pay for to legal expenses incurred by Burchell in fees paid to Belknap County Superior Court in filing a lawsuit on behalf of the county convention against the commissioners, $11,291 for inmate medications and medical services at the Belknap County Jail, $6,530 for natural gas heating fuel charges for December and $71.84 to pay former representatives Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), and Robert Greemore (R-Meredith) to attend a Personnel Committee meeting
Commissioners also heard a report from Corrections Superintendent Dan Ward on an application he is preparing to the National Institute of Corrections for a grant to hire a consultant as well as about interviews he is setting up with potential consultants.
He was given permission to hire an additional community corrections officer and accepted a commendation from the commissioners for Captain David Berry for the inspection report he recently completed at the jail which provided a list of improvements the county will start working on, some of which will need to be part of any bond issue for additions and improvements to the county jail.
It was also noted that the Belknap County Nursing Home received a five star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services following on-site inspections.
Commissioners heard a request from Register of Deeds Judy McGrath for hiring an additional part-time worker for her office, which she said has only a staff of three. She said it would cost $18,000. DeVoy said he would recommend that a person be hired for no more than 25 hours a week and Burchell said that hiring an additional worker would have to wait until the 2015 county budget is approved, typically in March.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2015 02:20

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