Meredith’s Prescott Park playground gone, new use is in the works

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — The playground structures have been removed from Prescott Park, and the town will soon hear a plan to use the space that once held them. The proposal will be included as part of a Parks and Recreation master plan that selectmen will first see next month.
The playground, which had been in a space adjacent to the Glenn Hart Memorial Skate Park, was removed because it had reached the end of its serviceable life, said Town Manager Phil Warren.
“Granted, it was probably built in the ’70s,” if not sooner, said Warren. The town was no longer able to find replacement parts, he said, so it was taken down.
“It had exceeded its intended use life cycle,” he said, noting that the much newer playground, located just a short walk away at the town’s Community Center, is at the ready for children who want to climb, swing and slide.
“There is a wonderful playground up the hill that was put together with lots of volunteer help and fundraising,” said Warren, specifically crediting the Friends of Meredith Parks and Recreation.
The Parks and Recreation Department is working on a plan to utilize the space that the playground once filled. Vint Choiniere, parks and recreation director, said the space is included in a master plan that his department is preparing to present to selectmen during a workshop session next month.
“We’re going to present that (on July 17). It’s still being worked out. We’ll have recommendations for all of our facilities,” said Choiniere, declining to offer specifics of the plan prior to its presentation to selectmen.
The playground’s removal comes less than a year after Warren rejected sweeping criticism of the town’s management of facilities at Prescott Park. In a letter to the editor, written by Kenny Hill and published in October 2016, Hill called the playground a “splinter trap.” Asked to respond, Warren said at the time that the playground was “still safe” and noted that the wood components were treated with a paint that encapsulates any potential splinters.
The town’s management of the park came under fire again this week, when Brendan Hart, son of the man that the skate park is dedicated to, criticised the town for both allowing the structures to deteriorate and for restricting access to the skate park to only a few hours per week.

 06 23 Merediths ex playground

A playground that once stood near the Glenn Hart Memorial Skate Park in Meredith's Prescott Park is gone. The town's Park and Recreation Department is readying a master plan for its facilities, including that space, which will be presented on July 17. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Woman escapes during jail transport in Laconia

LACONIA — Police are searching for a prisoner who escaped while being transported to the county jail yesterday.

A report from the United States Marshal’s – N.H. Joint Fugitive Task Force said Tamara Ipock, 35, escaped from the back seat of a deputy sheriff’s cruiser while being taken from the Merrimack County jail to the Belknap County jail. The report said she reached through a bar in the window and opened the door of the cruiser from the outside, escaping at the intersection of Court Street and Union Avenue.

Police said she is not considered violent and there is no danger to the public. Ipock was facing charges for possession of narcotics.

She is described as being 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing 120 pounds. She has blue eyes and brown hair.  Ipock has several identifiable tattoos, including; on her right ankle – four leaf clover; left ankle – flower and moon; right upper arm – butterfly; and neck – zodiac symbol.

If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Tamara Ipock, contact Special Deputy U.S. Marshal, Stephen Colcord. Colcord can be reached at 603-225-1632; or anonymously by clicking on this link: https://app.citizenobserver.com/tips/new?alert_group_id=274, or anonymously text the word NHTIP followed by any information to the phone number TIP411. If this is an urgent call, dial your local police or 911.

06 23 Tamara Ipock

Tamara Ipock

 

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
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Icon in decline

Opechee Indian carving Karen Bobotas

The 32-year-old sculpture at Opechee Park is named Keewakwa Abenaki Keenabeh, which translates to “Giant Indian – The Defiant One.” The log from which New Hampshire’s Whispering Giant is carved from is a native 36-foot red oak tree weighing approximately 24,000 pounds.  (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Rot, insects threaten 32-year-old sculpture at Opechee Park

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — At Opechee Park on Wednesday, there was a clear backward lean to the 36-foot red oak sculpture of the face and headdress of a Native American man.

Rot and insects have damaged the 32-year-old work of art, called Keewakwa Abenaki Keenabeh, which translates to “Giant Indian – The Defiant One.”

A couple of exterior sections have fallen into disrepair, but the main problem is inside, where deterioration is causing the 12-ton piece of New Hampshire wood to lean back on interior supports. The city has put a fence behind the statue as a precaution to keep people away.

Kevin Dunleavy, Laconia's director of Recreation and Facilities, said contributions are being sought to make repairs. If nothing is done, it could eventually fall or have to be removed.

“The city of Laconia is seeking assistance from the greater Laconia and state of New Hampshire community,” he said.

“The sculpture has been plagued by interior decay through the years and repairs are necessary to keep this iconic tribute standing for many more years.”

Peter Wolf Toth, the artist who created the sculpture, has volunteered to supervise repairs, which would include hollowing out the back of the statue, installing more interior supports and replacing rotten material with wood-colored fiberglass.

He has done similar statues in every state as part of his “Whispering Giants” series, and has had to make such repairs elsewhere.

Toth fled his native Hungary as a child. He has said he views his art work as a gift to America in return for the gift of freedom he received from this country. A sculpture he created in Hawaii in 1988 allowed him to complete his goal of placing one in each of the 50 states.

Dunleavy said repair costs and related expenses are projected at $7,000. The city is also seeking donations in the form of fiberglass work, scaffolding, boom lifts and other miscellaneous supplies.

Dunleavy can be reached at 603-524-5046 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To help out, contributions can be made out to the City of Laconia and either dropped off at the Laconia Community Center or mailed to Laconia Parks and Recreation, Native American Sculpture Fundraiser, 306 Union Avenue, Laconia, NH 03246.

Opechee Indian carving 2 Karen Bobotas

The statue at Opechee Park is clearly leaning back too far, so the city has put a fence around it to keep people away until it can be repaired. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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