Gilford school building improvement plan aims to avoid tax spikes

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD — Student safety was the topic of discussion at Monday's monthly School Board meeting after members decided they don't want to wait for a lock upgrade for the Elementary School initially scheduled for school year 2020-21. They recommended a Homeland Security Agency audit should be done sooner.

Member Sue Allen told the board that the lock upgrade, which synchronizes all of the doors and locks in the school and is projected to cost $80,000, could take precedence over some masonry repointing in the gym, priced at $71,000.

The goal of the administration is to have about $200,000 a year in facility upgrades so as to keep the tax commitment somewhat level and to avoid spikes in the rate for bigger projects.

The lock upgrade is partnered with interior and parking lighting upgrades to the High School and Middle School, which cost $120,000, and both will now be recommended for 2019-2020.

The brick repointing is partnered with a wireless infrastructure upgrade and is now tentatively scheduled for school year 2021-22.

In the interim and at the suggestion of Gilmanton School Board member Adam Mini, the administration is looking at a lockdown system similar to that at Gilmanton Elementary School that was recently install for about $10,000. Allen and other board members asked administrators to get an estimate and, after reporting back, possibly include it in the regular budget proposal.

Looming in the distance are about $870,000 in today's dollars for renovating the locker rooms at the High School. The two share a common wall, and Business Administrator Scott Isabelle said that because of asbestos abatement, there is no way the district can replace one locker room without doing the other.

The other major project projected for the future is the replacement of the Elementary School roof, which they projected would cost about $800,000 if done now.

While both of these items are scheduled for school years 2022 and beyond, the board had some discussion about creating capital reserve funds to save money for them and again try to keep the future tax commitment from spiking.

For 2017-18, the School District has recommended resurfacing the all-weather track, replacing some of the obsolete lighting and old curtains in the high school auditorium, and upgrading six classroom systems projectors and smart boards.

For 2018-19 the district recommends replacing the Middle School roof for $335,000. Isabelle said the current roof is under warranty until then but is starting to shrink away from the roof edges. He said if the district waits until after the warranty expires, it will be responsible for all the repairs from 2019 forward.

The town Capital Improvement Projects Committee meets next week and the school and town recommendations will be reviewed so members can try not to overburden the taxpayers in any one given year.

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3 landmark downtown Laconia buildings have new owners

LACONIA — Three prominent downtown buildings — the Pemaco Building at 622-634 Main St., the Cook Building next door at 610-618 Main St., and the triangular McIntyre Block at 12 Pleasant St. — have been sold.
All three buildings were purchased by Dwight Barton in 2007, but recently Collier International of Manchester became the court appointed receiver of the properties. RE/MAX Bayside has managed the three buildings and brokered their sale.
The Pemaco Building was listed for $299,900 and was sold for $215,000 to Keysper Holdings, LLC of Framingham, Massachusetts. Built in 1926, it is the youngest of the three. The building offers 19,115-square-feet of space on three floors, the second of which is dominated by the Gardens Theater, with seating capacity for 500 people. There are five commercial units on the ground floor and apartments on the top floor.
The Cook Building was listed for $499,900 and was sold for $450,000 to Cook Building Rentals, LLC with offices at 155 Ocean Key Way in Jupiter, Florida. Built in 1898, it is also a three-story block similar in profile and proportion to its neighbor. Its 17,316-square-feet are divided among four commercial units on the ground floor and 10 one-bedroom apartments and a studio on the upper floors.
The McIntyre Block was listed for $1,175,000 and was sold for $925,000 to Pleasant Street Rentals, LLC, also with offices at 155 Ocean Key Way, Jupiter, Florida. Built in 1914 at what was the junction of Pleasant Street and Water Street on the west side of Bank Square, it is the largest of the three with 30,308-square-feet, including a 3,330-square-foot garage and 6,652-square-foot basement. It houses nine commercial units on the ground floor along Pleasant Street and the discontinued stretch of Water Street lined with shops and known as Vintage Row. There are 21 one-bedroom apartments on the two upper stories.
Chris Kelly of RE/MAX Bayside declined yesterday to identify the principals behind the limited liability corporations, but emphasized that both own multiple properties in the city, one a mix of commercial and residential buildings and the other only residential units. Moreover, he said that both are committed to contributing to the revitalization of downtown. In particular, he said that the owner of the Cook Building and McIntyre Block intends to maintain commercial units on the ground floor and residential units on the upper floors and, as apartments become vacant to renovate and enhance them.

Likewise, he said that the owner of the Pemaco Building plans to continue the mixed use of the property with the goal of "finding the right tenant" for the Gardens Theater, which ideally would become an entertainment venue.

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Owner asking Big Island be zoned 'commercial resort'

LACONIA — The owner of Big Island in Paugus Bay, which is in the residential single family zoning district, has asked the City Council to add the property to the commercial resort district instead.

Of the three islands in Paugus Bay — Plummer, Big and Little — Big is the second largest at 2.9 acres. It sits about 1,200 feet east of the marina at South Down Shores and some 1,500 feet north of Paugus Park Road. Currently there is a three-bedroom seasonal camp of approximately 1,250-square-feet, which was built in 1950, and outhouse and a dock on the island. The camp is served by a dug well that draws water from the lake.

Scott Everett, the founder and president of Supreme Lending, a mortgage lender headquartered in Dallas, Texas, who was raised and still summers in the Lakes Region, purchased the island in 2012 for $725,000. In 2014 he conveyed the island to NH-Big Island Co. with the intention of developing a seasonal camp, owned and operated by a charitable corporation, which he would endow. Since a camp is not a permitted use in the single family family district, Everett applied to the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a variance, but withdrew the request when it met with stiff opposition from mainland residents, particularly property owners on Paugus Park Road.

In applying to rezone the island, attorney Pat Wood, representing Everett, stresses that the limited number of uses permitted in the residential single family district severely restricts the development of the island. He cites the Master Plan, among which is to "review and revise all commercial and industrial zoning districts in the city for appropriateness and for improved possibilities for economic development."

In the single family residential district, single family home, accessory apartment, emergency housing or bed and breakfast would be permitted, but only a residence would be practical. Educational uses are possible but not feasible and would require a special exception as would a limited number of commercial uses.

"There is very limited opportunity for this property to be developed economically as long as it is in the RS district," Wood writes.

However, in the commercial resort district Wood explains that the range of permitted uses would be much greater and include a lodging house, gallery, restaurant, artist's studio, retail store professional office, arts center, conference center and campground. He notes that the island will be served by municipal water and sewer along with electricity, telephone and cable television.

The Zoning Ordinance provides that property owners may petition the City Council to change the boundaries of zoning districts if they represent "50 percent or more of the land area affected by a petition." Since Everett, as the owner of the island, represents 100 percent of the owners of the property that would be affected, he is entitled to present a petition.

The council will consider Everett's request when it meets on Monday, Sept. 12 and within 30 days must determine whether to refer it to the Planning Board. The Planning Board must schedule a public hearing within 30 days of receiving the request and within 90 days of receiving the request must present a recommendation to the council, which then has 60 days to take action.

 

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