Laconia Athletic & Swim Club will not reopen, set to go to auction

By Ginger Kozlowski
THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Laconia Athletic and Swim Club, which closed Thanksgiving Day, will not reopen, and is set to go to auction soon.
"We're coming to the realization that a local investor group and trying to negotiate with a bank is not going to happen," said owner Tom Oakley on Monday.
Oakley sent an email to former members on Wednesday letting them know that their health club will not come back to serve their needs, and noted that the club is going to auction at the end of February.

Oakley said in the email that he remains optimistic that a new entity will be formed and the building will again "open its doors to this wonderful community."
Ready Cap Lending holds the first mortgage on the club, and would become the owner of the property in order to put the property up for auction, he said.
In the meantime, those who are interested in getting refunds on prepaid memberships will have to wait until the state Attorney General's office can process the requests.
"I've made a list of all who deserve refunds," said Oakley, "and given it to the Attorney General. We are working hand in hand with them."
In the email to members, Oakley said he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or P.O. Box 1287, Laconia, NH 03247.
Oakley made a point of saying that he went to the state Attorney General and the state Employment Security to warn them of the club's closing, and both told him how unusual it was to get such notice. He said he was told by the Attorney General's Office that they typically don't sit down with owners of clubs that suddenly close; in fact, they usually hide from such contact.
Because the club is now facing auction, Oakley has begun the process of removing all sensitive records from the facility and winterizing the building so utilities can be shut off.
A local attorney has offered to help Oakley without charge, one thing that he is grateful for.
"I've been disappointed by the experts," he said. "I'm trying to do the right thing, stay optimistic. I'm faced with the reality that we have to now move on. I'm trying to remain dignified, not become bitter."

Cold cuts - Squam Lake ice harvest is a long-standing tradition

Jon Spence and John Jurczynski break up the cut ice chunks with the crew then channeling them towards the chute for loading during the Rockywold-Deephaven Camp annual ice harvest on Squaw Cove Wednesday.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Jon Spence and John Jurczynski break up the cut ice chunks with the crew then channeling them towards the chute for loading during the Rockywold-Deephaven Camp annual ice harvest on Squaw Cove Wednesday. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

 

By Roger Amsden
FOR THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

SANDWICH — The annual ice harvest which will fill the antique ice boxes at the Rockywold-Deephaven camps on Squam Lake next summer got underway yesterday at Squaw Cove, a few miles up Route 113 from the camps.
The three-day harvest will see about 3,300 blocks of ice, weighing around 120 pounds each, cut from the 12-inch-thick ice and pushed and pulled through a 16-inch-wide channel cut into the lake, where they are winched up a ramp and layered into the back of a pickup truck, which hauls them away 15 blocks at a time.
John Jurczynski, manager of the Rockywold-Deephaven camps, oversees about a dozen workers during the harvest, said that about 20 years ago the camps tried to switch to electric refrigerators but got no support from their customers, who wanted the old, historic ice boxes instead.
He said the ice harvest tradition stretches back over 100 years at the camp and usually takes place in mid or late January, when the ice reaches a depth of at least 12 inches on one of the two coves used as harvest sites.
Carl Hansen of Sandwich, who operates the 36-inch motorized ice saw, said the undercarriage of the apparatus is 60 to 70 years old, but a new engine and a clutch have been added to make its operation more safe and efficient.
The saw is used to cut 40-foot-long rows, 16 inches apart, and then cuts across the rows at 20-inch intervals to separate the blocks. The saw penetrates deep into the ice but stops short of making contact with the water, which would freeze on the saw and slow its operation as well send plumes of water into the air which would make the lake's ice surface even more slippery.
"The saw can go as deep as 13-and-a-half inches and some years we've needed all of that because the ice got to 16 inches thick." said Hansen, who has been handling the sawing operation for about 13 years. He's a novelist, having recently completed "Destiny", which he describes as an ''eco-thriller" and is also an accomplished woodworker.
Helping out at the harvest was Dave Lacasse of Center Harbor, a maintenance worker at the Rockywold-Deephaven camps, who said the harvest is a lot of fun, in part due to the number of spectators it attracts, but also takes a lot of hard work.
He said that, unlike previous years, the weather is really nice this year, with temperatures approaching 40 degrees, but he' rather have it a little cooler.

"When it's in the 20s, the ice slides right along and can be handled better," he said.
Helping push the blocks through the channel was C.C. White of Sandwich, whose husband, Dave, was working with a power saw to cut the ice blocks apart.
''We get to keep about 150 blocks of ice for our ice house,'' said White, adding that she and her husband use an ice box instead of a refrigerator at their home, which produces its own electricity and is not connected to the electrical grid.
''We're totally off the grid. We don't even have running water. We have a well and use hand pump to draw the water," she said.
She's an artist and has been painting for years, and her husband is a retired builder. She grew up in North Conway and said she and her husband moved back to New Hampshire in 1998 and bought the land for their house, which they built totally themselves in 2001 and is super insulated, with solar panels producing its electricity.
Watching the harvest from a distance was Norm Lyford, 89, of Ashland, who last year marked 70 years of taking part in harvesting ice from Squam Lake. He started harvesting ice with his father, Colby, and recalls that in the early years teams of horses were used to pull the blocks of ice from the lake and haul them to ice houses.
Jurczynski said Lyford attended a training session Tuesday for volunteers but is not taking part in this year's harvest.

The two ice houses at Rockywold-Deephaven Camp will be full to the rafters (approximately 10-11 layers) after the three-day ice harvest.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Chris Burrows and Alex Sands precisely position ice blocks as they slide into the Rockywold Ice House during the ice harvest on Wednesday.  The two ice houses at Rockywold-Deephaven Camp will be full to the rafters (approximately 10-11 layers) after the three-day ice harvest.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Carl Hansen operates the ice cutter with precision during day one of the annual three day ice harvest with the Rockywold-Deephaven Camp crew on Wednesday.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Carl Hansen operates the ice cutter with precision during day one of the annual three day ice harvest with the Rockywold-Deephaven Camp crew on Wednesday.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Laconia City Council schedules hearing on Davis Place lot sale

LACONIA — In response to Harry Bean's offer to purchase parts of two lots owned by the city next door to a house lot he owns at 32 Davis Place, the City Council this week scheduled a public hearing to determine if the city has need of the property or chooses to sell it. The hearing will be held during the council meeting on Monday, Feb. 8.

Bean seeks to purchase 9,810 square feet of untended woodland straddling Jewett Brook and lying between a house lot he owns at 32 Davis Place, on the opposite bank of the brook, and the remainder of the city property, part of which serves as a parking lot. Most of the land lies within a 1.67-acre lot on that fronts on Davis Place and stretches along the north bank of the brook to the Winnipesaukee River. Bean's offer also includes an adjoining strip of land, approximately 10 feet by 131 feet, along the east side of a second 0.15 acre lot, also owned by the city, that lies within the larger lot.
Bean told the councilors he is renovating the house at 32 Davis Place, where he expects his granddaughter to live. The land next door, he said, has been neglected and become a dumping ground strewn with televisions, shopping carts, mattresses and "you name it" as well as a place where people loiter. He said that he has "run off a couple of people urinating on the property. He stressed that he has no intention of developing the property, but wants only to clean it up and "just make it look nice."

Bean has offered $1,000 for the property, which would be acquired by a boundary line adjustment, and has agreed to pay to conduct a survey, transfer the title and record the deed. Since the parcel would be carved out of two lots, its assessed value has only been estimated. If the transaction closed, the property would be returned to the tax rolls and its value reflected in the assessment of the lot at 32 Davis Place to which it would be added.

City Manager Scott Myers told the council that the Assessing Department estimated the value of the land Bean seeks to buy at between $6,000 and $7,000. Jon Duhamel, the assessor, said that adding the parcel to the lot at 32 David Place as Bean proposes would increase its value by $10,800.

In a memorandum, Planning Director Shanna Saunders noted that almost all the property is within the 75-foot wetland buffer along Jewett Brook where no vegetation can be removed or altered without a permit from the Planning Board.

Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) has urged his fellow councilors to proceed with the sale, calling the property "a piece of crap" and insisting the that the city has everything to gain and nothing to lose by selling it, even for $1,000.

Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) urged the council to commission an appraisal of the property before scheduling a public hearing. "It's premature," he said, insisting "this is not the way to do business" and casting the lone dissenting vote against the motion to proceed.