Alton construction company buys Belmont's Wilcom building

NorthLand converting former industrial property

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL

LACONIA DAILY SUN

BELMONT — NorthLand Construction of Alton, which has purchased the former Wilcom manufacturing building on Route 3, across from the Belknap Mall, will move company headquarters there while also converting much of the space into storage units and professional offices.

Owner Timothy Suchocki, who closed on the property on April 17, said he was there the next day tearing down interior walls and cleaning up the parking lot to renovate the nine-acre property to the new uses.

Suchocki said the second floor of the 55,000-square-foot building, which has 16,000-square-feet with its own access from an upper parking lot, is configured for medical offices and is suitable for doctors, physical therapists, and rehabilitation services.

“The office space is available immediately, and I’m willing to reconfigure it any way they need,” he said.

NorthLand will be using the much of the first-floor office space for its headquarters, but there also is a section with professional office space that will be available.

The majority of the lower floor — originally a bowling alley and most recently manufacturing space for Wilcom Products, Inc. — is large enough to accommodate 160 storage units, Suchocki said. He plans to have an on-site manager to oversee the heated storage space, and security features will include motion detectors and cameras. He will be upgrading the building’s sprinkler system to accommodate the new units, he said.

Suchocki expects the storage units will be ready in time for a July opening, and he plans to add exterior units after that.

NorthLand also has been cleaning up the outside property, removing trees that had grown up near the building and cleaning up the parking lot in preparation for offering boat and recreational vehicle storage toward the back of the lot.

The company also has a marine division that builds residential and commercial boat docks, breakwaters, and boathouses, and Suchocki’s Connecticut-based highway construction company, Suchocki & Son, Inc., also will be operating from the Belmont property to handle anticipated jobs in New Hampshire.

“We really enjoy this area,” he said. “Belmont is an up-and-coming place, with friendly people and beautiful scenery, and we’re happy to be here.”

Wilcom Products, Inc., a manufacturer of telecommunications test equipment and components, has relocated to smaller quarters in Meredith.

Photo

Timothy Suchocki, owner of NorthLand Construction, takes a hands-on approach to his job, operating the heavy equipment that is cleaning up the parking lot of the Wilcom building in Belmont he has purchased as the company’s new headquarters, with office and storage space for rent. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Tom Caldwell)

Display of antique gowns & dresses to add to attraction of Sunday's fashion show to benefit Beklnap Mill Society

LACONIA — On Sunday afternoon, at the "Fashion & Flair" show at the Belknap Mill, ticket holders are already looking forward to seeing the latest styles available at the Tanger Outlet stores. What they don't know is that they will also be treated to the very rare opportunity to see some of the the extensive collection of antique gowns and dresses in the collection of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society.

The dresses were given to the Historical and Museum Society by the Lakeport Women's Club. Pam Clark, of the society, said that the collection features wedding dresses and evening gowns from as far back as the mid-19th Century, many of which have notes saying who the dress belonged to.

Tara Shore, operations manager at The Belknap Mill, was working with Clark on Friday to select a half-dozen dresses to display for a Sunday-only pop-up exhibit to coincide with the fashion show. Clark, who has a quarter-century of experience with the Historical and Museum Society, said she can only recall one other instance when the dresses were displayed.

"We're giving a sense of fashions of the past for our current fashion show," said Shore, who was grateful that the Historical and Museum Society was willing to lend the dresses for the brief exhibition. Looking at one of the dresses, she said, "Someone wore this at one point, they were more than likely local people... There's a story here somewhere."

The Belknap Mill will be open for the Fashion & Flair show from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. In addition to fashions, both old and new, the event will feature live music performed by Jonathan Lorentz, hors d' oeuvres by Annie's Café and Catering, cash bar operated by Contigiani's Catering, and Pat Kelly will be the master of ceremonies.

General admission tickets for the event cost $35 and are available at www.belkapmill.org or at the door.

 

CAPTION for 05 20 Antique Dress in MAY folder

Pam Clark, of the Laconia Historical and Museum Society, prepares to display a wedding dress from 1851. The Belknap Mill will be hosting a pop-up exhibit featuring six of the Historical and Museum Society's collection of antique dresses during its "Fashion & Flair" show on Sunday afternoon. (Adam Drapcho/The Laconia Daily Sun)

WOW Trail advocates have lawyers, too

Both sides lawyer up in WOW Trail debate

By RICK GREEN, THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Both sides in the debate over whether a public recreation trail should be built adjacent to two private, gated communities said Friday they have retained legal counsel in case the issue ends up in court.

At issue is a proposed 5-mile extension of the Winnisquam-Opechee-Winnipesaukee (WOW) Trail in a state-owned railroad right-of-way that skirts Paugus Bay and the communities of South Down Shores and Long Bay.

Some residents fear the trail would cause them to lose privacy. They also worry that some trail users might trespass or engage in crime.

Gretchen Gandini, executive director of the nonprofit organization supporting the extension, released a statement Friday saying attorneys William Philpot Jr. and Samantha M. Jewett have been retained.

"While we regret having to take this step, we understand the reality before us," she said. "We look forward to the trail's continued expansion with a spirit of cooperation, but recognize that we must be prepared for the alternative."

She said she hopes a court fight isn't necessary.

"There's still lots of room for conversation," Gandini said. "I'm hopeful. We have lots of good friends in South Down and Long Bay."

Bruce D. Miller, president of the South Down Shores homeowners association, said his group also has obtained the services of attorneys. He said litigation would be necessary if an alternate route for the trail is not found.

"We would be delighted to talk to them about an alternate route," he said.

Backers of the extension expect to propose their plans to the city within a few months. The City Council could ultimately ask the state for permission to use the rail corridor to extend the trail.

Trail backers say the railroad right of way, which offers unobstructed views of the bay, is the best route.

A scenic railways uses the tracks in the tourist season through a lease with the state Bureau of Rails. Unused or little-used rail corridors have been used for biking, walking and running paths across the country.

Proponents say crime is not a problem on the existing section of the trail, and wouldn't be a problem on the extension.

The 10-foot-wide trail now runs from the Belmont town line to Elm Street in the Lakeport area of Laconia. In addition to the proposed extension to Weirs Beach, proponents hope to ultimately build a section that would take it all the way in to Meredith.

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