Council to consider city garage’s future

LACONIA — The City Council will address the future of the downtown parking garage when it meets on Monday, Dec.14, beginning at 7 p.m.

In September, the parking garage was closed when an inspection found that the structural steel supporting the ramps were weakened by corrosion from exposure to water and salt. Emergency repairs were made to open the garage to the second level, but the third level has remained closed.

Dubois & King, Inc. completed an assessment of the condition of the parking garage last month and estimates the cost of repairs required to ensure long-term use of the facility at $1.2 million. Alternatively, emergency repairs similar to those undertaken in October could be made to reopen the third deck at a cost $120,000, but the ramps would require inspection and re-evaluation every six months.

The issue has taken on a measure of complexity and urgency because Genesis Behavioral Health has an option, which expires at the end of this year, to purchase the privately owned portion of the facility. Maggie Pritchard, executive director of Genesis, said yesterday that should the council fail to ensure the long-term integrity of the structure in a timely manner, the transaction could be jeopardized.

Ownership of the garage is shared between the city and Downtown Crossing, LLC, whose principle is Daniel Disangro of Rosindale, Massachusetts. The publicly owned portion of the garage includes the ramps and north end of the second and third levels, including the northernmost stairwell. Downtown Crossing LLC owns the ground floor of the garage, except for the ramps, and the south end of the second and third levels, including the southernmost stairwell. In other words, the city is responsible for maintaining most of the garage, particularly the ramps to access the privately owned spaces on the second and third levels.

In addition, Downtown Crossing LLC also owns the commercial spaces on the ground floor housing the Grace Capital Church, Soda Shoppe, Tangerine Green, Wedbush Securities and, Moods of Manhattan as well as two vacant units.

Genesis is seeking to acquire the property owned by Downtown Crossing LLC and convert the portion occupied by the Grace Capital Church together with some of the smaller units to house its administrative and clinical services. The project would be financed by a bond $5.5 million bond issued by the New Hampshire Health and Educational Facilities Authority. Pritchard said that the agency will seek to raise $1.5 million through a capital campaign as well as sell its properties at 111 Church St. and 771 Main St., which have assessed values of $959,000 and $625,200 respectively, and apply the proceeds against the debt.

City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday there are other aspects to the issue for the council to consider, most obvious among them the impact of losing some 220 parking spaces — about 180 owned by the city – in the center of downtown. He said that prospect of reopening the Colonial Theatre has increased interest in downtown properties, which will increase the demand for parking.

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Busy Corner to make way for ‘pocket park’

LACONIA — Busy Corner, also known as Normandin Square, will soon be getting a facelift.
CVS Pharmacy has purchased the property at the junction of Union Avenue and Church Street where a small building, which for some time was topped by a LACONIA — Busy Corner, also known as Normandin Square, will soon be getting a facelift.
CVS Pharmacy has purchased the property at the junction of Union Avenue and Church Street where a small building, which for some time was topped by a sign proclaiming “Busy Corner,” has stood since 1917. The company intends to demolish the building and create what Planning Director Shanna Saunders called a “pocket park” in its place.
The postage-stamp-sized lot of .058 of an acre is nearly a perfect isosceles triangle with two sides of 94.12 feet and 94.85 feet and a third of 55.81 feet. CVS plans to place a paved doughnut with a planted center in the space, which will be bounded on either side by perennial grasses and shrubs. Three granite benches will be placed around paved circle.
The park will be constructed and maintained by the company which adjoins the 1.59 acre lot where the CVS store was built in 2010.
For many years, the building at Busy Corner housed a popular luncheonette catering to the employees of the Scott & Williams Knitting Machine Mill and more recently has served as a law office, nail salon and barbershop.sign proclaiming “Busy Corner,” has stood since 1917. The company intends to demolish the building and create what Planning Director Shanna Saunders called a “pocket park” in its place.
The postage-stamp-sized lot of .058 of an acre is nearly a perfect isosceles triangle with two sides of 94.12 feet and 94.85 feet and a third of 55.81 feet. CVS plans to place a paved doughnut with a planted center in the space, which will be bounded on either side by perennial grasses and shrubs. Three granite benches will be placed around paved circle.
The park will be constructed and maintained by the company which adjoins the 1.59 acre lot where the CVS store was built in 2010.
For many years, the building at Busy Corner housed a popular luncheonette catering to the employees of the Scott & Williams Knitting Machine Mill and more recently has served as a law office, nail salon and barbershop.

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Gilford does well compared to state on smarter Balanced Assessments

GILFORD – After taking their first ever Smarter Balanced Tests last fall, students across the board, with very few exceptions, performed at higher levels than did the average students in New Hampshire, according to the recently released results.

This year's third-graders did exceptionally well, with math scores showing 69 percent of the students performed at a proficient or above proficient rate. The state average was 53 percent.

In English language arts, third-grade students rocked with 73 percent of them performing at or above proficiency levels compared to 55 percent in the state.

Superintendent Kent Hemingway said the students worked very hard preparing for the Smarter Balanced tests that not only measure basic math and English language skills but also measure comprehension and the ability to apply their skills to everyday situations. Also, this is the first time students took a computer-based test, as opposed to the former NECAP, done on paper.

He added that, for the first time taking the test, he was very pleased with the overall scores but noted, as always, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Students from grades 3 through 8 were tested, as were high school juniors. Fourth-grade math students outperformed the state average of 49 percent proficient and above with a score of 58. Conversely, in English/language arts, Gilford performed exactly as did the balance of the state students with 56 percent at proficient or above.

Throughout middle school, Gilford's scores remained on a par or slightly above the state average. At 43 percent proficient or above, only the seventh-grade math scores were below the state average of 51 percent proficient or above. In English/language arts, seventh-grade students scored at 64 while the state average was at 62.

By 11th grade, Gilford students surpassed the rest of the state with math scores of 41 percent proficient or above as compared to 36 percent for the state average. In English/language arts, the score of 67 percent proficient or above exceeded the state average of 59 percent.

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