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Study finds little fault with head-out parking but Bristo Selectboard wants options

by Thomas P. Caldwell

BRISTOL — Despite a report from the Lakes Region Planning Commission that found little problem with the "back-in" or "head-out" parking in the reconfigured town center, the Board of Selectmen directed Town Administrator Michael Capone to send a letter to Highway Engineer William Rose of the N.H. Department of Transportation, asking about the town's options for changing the parking to address lingering concerns among residents and downtown businesses.
The selectmen told Michael Izard and Dan Collis that they appreciated their work in completing a traffic study for the DOT at no cost to the town, but said they believed a longer study would have shown more serious traffic problems.
Betsy Schneider commented, "It would have been nice to have a larger sample than just mid-week. I've witnessed a lot of problems, and it's scary to me. I'm not sure it's really right for us."
Izard, who led the analysis of Collis' data, conceded, "If we had more time, we might have seen more." While acknowledging that traffic flow is "tight to facilitate all vehicles" passing through Central Square, he said a lot of the problems were associated with a lack of good driver behavior.
Collis told selectmen at their Oct. 16 meeting that he had made six one-hour site visits, all of them mid-week, to observe traffic movement during the peak traffic periods of 7 to 8 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m., as well as reviewing a 24-hour video supplied by the town, recorded on June 25-26.
The two men from the LRPC reported that travelers on Route 104 exceeded the speed limit by more than 10 mph more frequently than on any other approach to Central Square, while those southbound on Route 3-A exceeded the limit by more than 10 mph more frequently than any other route from Central Square. About one percent, or 100 vehicles per day, were large trucks and Izard said anecdotal information indicated that many of them had been seen going too fast, creating an additional risk if they should need to stop suddenly. He noted that those reports were not supported by their observations, however.
The LRPC took traffic counts last November and during July and found no significant difference in the daily traffic volumes, only in the time of day when the peaks occurred.
The problems they did observe involved the queuing of up to five vehicles waiting to turn from Route 3-A onto Route 104 and, while they were not lengthy stops, they held the potential of blocking traffic turning onto Central Street. Additionally five motorists in a 12-hour period traveled the wrong way on North Main Street; 45 percent of the pedestrians crossing the street did not use the crosswalks; and several small cargo trucks made brief stops along the traveled portion of Route 3-A while making deliveries.
As for the parking, the team noted that large vehicles utilizing the reverse-angle parking space at the southern end of the square obstructed views of pedestrians on that crosswalk; large vehicles were observed in spaces reserved for compact vehicles near the Central Street crosswalk, obscuring that view; and the easterly three reverse-angle parking spaces on Central Street were observed being used for nose-in parking.
Based on their observations, the LRPC team recommended speed enforcement at key periods of the day, along with enforcement of the one-way rule on North Main Street; bulb-outs at the crosswalks to provide better visibility for both pedestrians and motorists; and the creation of legal, on-street parking for deliveries.
In its key finding, the report stated, "There was no conclusive evidence to indicate motorists utilize one type of parking in favor of another, or that less familiar parking configurations are avoided in favor of alternative parking options. Accessibility to businesses and services by motorists that park and become pedestrians appears to be convenient, connected, and relatively safe in the compact square and not dependent on the location or configuration of the parking space. While challenges using the reverse-angle parking were not observed, there were instances observed where this type of parking was misused on Central Street."
The recommendation for the parking issues was additional education, perhaps using police, driver's education, the town newsletter, and public access television to spread awareness.
Resident Steve Favorite passed around copies of Lebanon's report on its Colburn Park Traffic Circulation Project in which the pilot program utilizing head-out parking was found to disrupt normal business operations, with people complaining of exhaust fumes in their buildings. The report found that large SUVs obscured views of oncoming traffic; the hoods of cars pulling out into traffic were not as visible as the back-up lights of vehicles leaving traditional parking spaces; and they narrowed the roadway so there was less room for cyclists to travel without getting into the travel lane.
"It was the distance of each car backing up that was the problem," said Favorite. "That's what's happening in Bristol. When a car is backing out and another car comes around the corner, there it is. There is also the problem of overhanging trucks; if they back until the tires hit the curb, it cuts down on sidewalk space. And people try to go around you while parking, but there's very little space to do that."
Schneider agreed, saying most elderly people choose not to back up. "And that's important to note," she said.
Izard reported that they also did a traffic signal warrant analysis, as Bristol residents have said for years that a traffic light would help guide traffic in the square. Izard said that, according to the "100 percent volume criteria" the state uses, Bristol does not qualify. Conceding that not all traffic engineers agree with the criteria, Izard said a traffic light in the square could pose a problem for large trucks entering the square from the hill on Route 3-A if they had to stop for the light.

Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 11:37

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Supreme Court orders city to reimburse Gammon for court costs, without Social Security number

CONCORD — The New Hampshire Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the city of Laconia must pay the legal costs incurred by Dave Gammon, who petitioned the Belknap County Superior Court to order a recount of the 2013 municipal primary election result in Ward 5, without requiring him to complete and submit a federal W-9 form.

Gammon, who with his wife and another voter wrote in the name of Tom Tardif for city council, challenged the result, which failed to record the votes, and ultimately petitioned the Belknap County Superior Court to order a recount. The city did not object, the recount was held and Gammon was vindicated.

However, no agreement was reached on Gammon's right to recover costs. At a separate hearing, at which the city was not represented, Justice Larry Smukler awarded Gammons costs amounting to $280.76. The city agreed to reimburse Gammon's costs, but asked the court to require him to submit an IRS W-9 form to comply with its internal accounting policies. The court granted the city's request, but Gammon balked, claiming he should not be required to report the award of costs to the Internal Revenue Service, and appealed to the Supreme Court.

The city requires a W-9 form of all individuals to whom it makes payments of any amount as part of its record keeping and internal control processes. The form has no bearing on whether or not a payment represents taxable income. It includes a taxpayer's name, address and Social Security number (or company tax identification number) and asks taxpayers if they are subject to backup withholding, usually because their information fails to match that on file with IRS or they owe back taxes and are subject to mandatory withholding.

In her order Chief Justice Linda Dalianis noted that Superior Court Civil Rule 45 prescribes that the prevailing party shall be allowed costs, "unless the court otherwise directs" and held that according to "the express language of the rule, certain costs, including court fees and fees for service of process , are allowable to the prevailing party as a matter of right. Regardless of whether the city's internal control requires that payees of court-ordered provide W-9 forms," she continued, "nothing is Rule 45 purports to obligate the prevailing party to comply with a defendant's internal accounting policies to be entitled to an award of costs."

Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 11:14

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Newfound board reaches agreement wiht teachers' union

by Thomas P. Caldwell

BRISTOL — The Newfound Area School Board on Oct. 14 ratified the negotiated collective bargaining agreement with the Newfound Area Teachers Association, which already had approved the new, three-year contract. Although both sides have ratified the agreement, they are not releasing the details until after they meet on Monday to actually sign off on the document.
Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater, vice-chair of the school board, said the agreement represented "a fair give and take on both sides, and it's long overdue".
The new contract comes in the wake of the school district's rejection during the March school district meeting of the last agreement the two sides had negotiated. School board member Jeff Levesque of Groton is urging members of the community to get behind the new agreement.
While the two sides are forbidden to offer specifics on the negotiated agreement until it is signed, Don Franklin of Hebron did say the teachers had made concessions on the health insurance front.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 October 2014 12:29

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Belmont man accused on head-butting woman

CIRCUIT COURT — A Belmont man was ordered held on $1,000 cash-only bail yesterday after allegedly head-butting a woman during a domestic disturbance Thursday.

Gregory Potter, 32, of Greenleaf Court is also charged with driving after revocation and breach of bail.

According to complaints and police affidavits obtained from the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, the owner of the Potter's apartment went to the Belmont Police Department at 8:31 a.m. Thursday to report the victim sent him text messages saying Potter was "destroying the apartment and damaging her property."

Two police officers went to the apartment and found Potter still there. When the victim spoke privately with police, she told them he had head-butted her, thrown things at her and that she was afraid of him.

Police charged him with simple assault and took him from the apartment.

Once at the police station, police learned he was on bail after being arrested for driving after revocation on October 9. His license was suspended in 2011 for driving while intoxicated.

Belmont's prosecutor asked for the $1,000 bail saying that Potter has 16 previous arrests including two bail jumping charges and a felony reckless conduct charge in Gilford in 2011 that involved the same woman.

Potter's attorney argued that he was not a flight risk and could live with a relative in Meredith. She also told Judge Jim Carroll that that he had a good job as a machinist and there were no alcohol or drugs involved in the most recent allegation.

"Does that make it better or worse," Carroll asked.

When she replied "better" Carroll said he thought it made it worse.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 October 2014 12:23

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