Briarcrest Estates says ‘no’ to buyout

 By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Members of a residents' cooperative that owns Briarcrest Estates, a bucolic, 230-acre manufactured housing park, have decided not to pursue a potential sale of the property to the Hometown America Corporation.

The 121-31 vote Monday night to maintain the status quo at the park comes after weeks of conflict between two factions within Lakemont Cooperative. One contends management of the park would improve under corporate ownership. The other asserts that residents' interests and pocketbooks are best protected by the cooperative.

Members of the community reported angry phone calls and arguments among neighbors. There was even a report of a physical confrontation between two neighbors in the mail room. Members of the cooperative board who suggested investigating a possible change of ownership resigned after coming under sharp criticism.

Louise Rosand, a resident in favor of continued ownership by the cooperative, hopes the decisive vote puts an end to the conflict.

“It was a very nice ending to a nasty story,” she said. “Everyone cheered except for 31 people.”

She said she never understood the rationale for selling the property.

“They're essentially wrong,” Rosand said. “It is managed well, financially stable, the banks love us.”

She also said the grounds are well maintained.

City Council Brenda Baer, a Briarcrest resident, has been in favor of a sale and was disappointed at the outcome of the vote.

“I've lived here for 21 years, 19 under private ownership,” she said. “The present ownership has not been a very good experience. There's been a lot of division. They depend on voluntary services to run the place. This is a $10 million to $12 million business, and I don't think you should run it with volunteers.”

Hometown America Corporation offered to retire the outstanding balances on an $8 million loan from TD Bank and a $2 million loan from the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund as well as pay the prepayment penalty for the loan, closing costs and real estate transfer taxes.

Tara Reardon, director of ROC-NH, a program of the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, said there are 121 resident-owned communities in New Hampshire and none have entertained an offer to sell their parks.

“We think that's for obvious reasons,” she said. “Rents are lower in a not-for-profit community than under ownership by a for-profit corporation.”

Mark and Ruth Mooney opened Briarcrest Estates in 1988. Its land covers an area in Laconia and Belmont.

The cooperative matched an offer from Hometown America to purchase the park from the Mooneys for $10 million in 2014.

  • Written by Rick Green
  • Category: Local News
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Maine couple wins Passport trophy

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL

LACONIA — A couple from Berwick, Maine, was the first to complete the 2017 Laconia Passport tour, earning the right to hold the Passport trophy.
The Laconia Passbook Program, dedicated this year to the memory of Robert Locke, sends riders on a journey to collect passbook stamps from restaurants, shops, and attractions throughout the state, with some stops in Maine.
Matthew Cobb and Pam Shattuck earned the trophy for making the rounds and collecting stamps between Saturday morning and Sunday morning and turning in their passport Sunday evening.
The trophy is a perpetual award, provided by Locke’s parents after his death during last year’s rally in a Maine motorcycle accident. He and his friends, Bill Saar, Bevil Long, and R.J. Drew, had been attending the Laconia rally since its inception in 2013, and were the first to complete the Passbook tour each year.
Saar and Long turned over the trophy to the new recipients during Monday’s Motorcycle Week cruise aboard the MS Mount Washington. Cobb and Shattuck’s names will be engraved on the trophy, recognizing them as the 2017 winners.

06 13 Passport Winners
Bevil Long, left, and Bill Saar, right, last year's Laconia Passport winners, turn over their trophy to Matthew Cobb and Pam Shattuck, the first to complete the tour this year. (Courtesy Photo)

06 13 Locke
The 2017 Laconia Passport Program is dedicated to Robert Locke, second from right, who died in a motorcycle crash last year. With him at Rally Headquarters, from left, are Bill Saar, Jennifer Anderson of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, and Bevil Long, right, when they were the first ever to complete the Passport Program in 2013. (Courtesy Photo)

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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City OK’s funding plan for teacher salaries

 

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — As expected, the City Council on Monday formally approved a letter of understanding between it and the School Board on funding a 5-year collective bargaining agreement calling for significant salary hikes for city teachers.

The letter, also approved by the School Board, calls for the creation of a city reserve fund for years when there is not enough money available under the property tax cap to reach the minimum increase needed for the contract.

The council would place $500,000 in that fund. This money would come from nearly $1 million the city expects to make from property it is in the process of selling in the Lakeport Square area.

The contract would be renegotiated in any year in which there wasn't sufficient revenue to fund called-for raises under the agreement.

On June 5, the council approved the contract with the understanding that the mechanism set forth in the letter of understanding would help fund the pact. The letter was developed in working sessions between members of the City Council and the School Board.

  • Written by Rick Green
  • Category: Local News
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