Mike Persson - What do we want Laconia to become and how do we get there?

The 2016-2017 city budget process is in full swing and it is clear to most people that our city faces a budget crisis. The recently approved School District budget to be submitted to the City Council represents over $1.64 million in reductions from existing programs and no money to fund new programs aimed at implementing the district's strategic plan. The city side of the budget, including police, public works, fire, and other city departments, also face substantial budget pressures. Laconia faces difficult choices in the coming months and the decisions that are made are going to have long lasting impacts on the future of our city. As the City Council prepares to make these important decisions, it is my hope that the council members and the city at large ask two important questions. What is it that we want Laconia to become and how do we get there?

Over the past few weeks, I have noted that fingers have been pointed in many directions seeking to place blame for the budget situation that the city now faces. Some point to the increase in low-income housing that the city has been experiencing as the reason for our problems. Others point to government out-of-control and unfunded mandates from the federal and state governments that have resulted in excessive spending by both the city and the schools. Others, myself included, point the structure of the tax cap as an impediment to our investing in the city's future. Still others maintain that there is no crisis and point to the School Board for somehow manufacturing this situation. Ironically, none of the finger pointers is addressing the fundamental issue, which is how we deal with the situation that we now face.

I recently had a conversation with my best friend, who is an executive at a large local employer and a staunch conservative who favors limited government. I told him about the results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Laconia students, which indicated that almost half of our students have lived with someone with alcohol or drug problem, nearly one in five had a family member in jail, and more than one in five were dealing with domestic violence at home. He was extremely surprised and concerned about these results and commented on the fact that the new executives that his company has hired have chosen to purchase homes in other towns rather than in Laconia due to their negative perceptions of Laconia as a place to raise their children. We then discussed the impacts of the budget crisis, the impact of an override of the current tax cap on future budgets, and my belief that the override provision needs to be amended in order to prevent this from being an annual occurrence. He commented that Laconia's issues will take 10 years to address and then said something that I never expected to hear. He said "I would be willing to spend more money in taxes to invest in the future of this city if I knew what the city wanted to become, I understood what obstacles were keeping us from getting there, I believed that the city had a workable plan for overcoming those obstacles, and I knew that the money would be spent towards implementing its plan."

My friend's statement had a profound impact on my thinking about this issue. After much thought, I developed the following vision of what I would like Laconia to be in 10 years:

Laconia is a vibrant, growing and economically diverse community with a strong middle class population. Laconia's citizens are invested in their community and are proud to tell others that they live in Laconia. Laconia is viewed by the business community as an attractive place to do business. Finally, Laconia is known as a community that thoughtfully plans for the future, has a growing tax base and shrinking tax rate, and consistently provides a superior level of city services to its residents.

Other people are sure to have other visions. Further, there is sure to be disagreement about how we would achieve any such a vision. However, if we do not open a dialogue over the direction of the city, work together to develop and prioritize goals, and agree on what actions need to be taken to ensure that the city gets to where we want it to go, we will be unconsciously deciding upon a course of action that may or may not obtain the results that most people want.

The City Council, School Board and so many of our citizens share at least one thing in common. We all love the city of Laconia. We may not always agree on what that city should look like in the future or how to we should get there, but we all can agree that we want what is best for our city. We will never get anywhere if people continue to sit in their camps and point fingers elsewhere. We will only get there by coming together to openly and honestly discuss what is important to the city's future, determine what we need to do to fix the issues that we face, and figure out how we invest in those actions in order to ensure that we are successful.

Our city is at a crossroads and we can choose to focus solely on this year's budget cycle or to think about our future and plan for it. The City Council has been forward thinking in the past and has demonstrated their willingness to invest in our future by supporting such things as the Laconia Police Department's PET Officer, needed improvements to city facilities, and the financing of the purchase and redevelopment of the Colonial Theater, to name just a few. I am hopeful that the council will continue this trend and look forward to working with them to plan for Laconia's future. I believe in the wisdom of the old saying that "those who fail to plan are planning to fail". In my opinion, our city's future is too important to be left to chance.

(Attorney Michael Persson is a member of the Laconia School Board.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 518

Suissevale: A family-friendly community on Lake Winnipesaukee

By Frank Roche, President, Roche Realty Group, Inc.

 

When you navigate the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, there's 71 square miles of water and 274 islands to meander through, and on the northeastern shores of the lake there's an interesting four-season community that offers so many recreational opportunities for families to enjoy. Suissevale is one of the largest lakefront communities on the "Big Lake." This established year-round community includes over 600 acres of land located in Moultonborough. The developer of Gunstock Acres in Gilford, George Katter, was also instrumental in the development of Suissevale. Today, this active second-home community includes over 400 single-family homes and it's another example of so many fine communities and choices for prospective buyers which are located in New Hampshire's Lakes Region.
The majority of residents are vacation home owners; however, many couples who started with a vacation home have now made it their permanent semi-retirement home. There are approximately 72 full-time residents during the winter months at Suissevale. This sounds about right when you consider that Moultonborough leads the Lakes Region with 61 percent of its total residences being utilized as vacation homes. That's a pretty high percentage.

I know that Hebron on Newfound Lake comes in a close second at 58 percent. This is due to the fact that Moultonborough is blessed with approximately 66 miles of shorefront within the town – a pretty amazing fact when you compare it to New Hampshire's entire coastline, which includes only 18 miles. That's a lot of water, and it translates into a lot of second homes. So many families want to experience New Hampshire's largest lake, and Suissevale is a great choice for that endeavor.

The community enjoys 2,500 feet of shorefront and features enormous sandy beaches for all of its members to experience. The community also features a large marina with individual boat slips and a boat launch. The boat slips are not deeded and members register on a waiting list.

There are approximately six or seven slips that become available each year. A fee of approximately $1,000 each year is charged for a boat slip rental. Additionally, there are canoe and kayak racks, tennis courts, community clubhouse, barbecue areas, gazebo, children's playgrounds, and a snow-coasting hill for the children during the winter months. Suissevale is a very family-friendly community with a multitude of activities for everyone to enjoy.
The development features a community water system with individual septic systems. Throughout the 600+ acres of land there are over 26 miles of private roads contained within the community. This would be an amazing feat to complete at today's costs, and imagine trying to find today 2,500 feet of tranquil shorefront on Lake Winnipesaukee with a beautiful westerly facing shoreline. Another factor contributing to Moultonborough's desirability is its low tax rate, at $9.01 per $1,000. Additionally, the annual dues for a single-family home on its own lot is only $950 per year. This is bargain when you consider how many fine amenities you are getting in return on Lake Winnipesaukee.
I've pulled together an analysis of sales within Suissevale comparing 12 months ending 2015 versus 2014. Also included in this breakdown are the current active listings which are offered as of March 25, 2016. Over the years, we've seen a surge of sales activity in communities similar to Suissevale. It offers a wonderful alternative to owning a waterfront home because of the lower entry-level price points for a water access community with boat slips versus a single-family home on its own lot on the lake. Additionally, we find that many families with children enjoy the "community atmosphere" of a planned community because their children are able to meet and interact with other children and the adult members of the family are able to socialize with other members in the community. At Suissevale, all property owners can enjoy those lasting memories of great summers on the lake and an occasional drop down the sledding hill in the winter months, along with all the skiing and sports activities to enjoy each season.
So there you have it, a thumbnail sketch of Suissevale in Moultonborough. Take a look on Google.com and search "Purchase property at Suissevale on Lake Winnipesaukee" – RocheRealty.com will pop up on top and direct you to the Suissevale community page on our website showing all available properties for sale.
Please feel free to visit www.rocherealty.com to learn more about the Lakes Region and its real estate market. Frank Roche is president of Roche Realty Group in Meredith and Laconia, NH, and can be reached at (603) 279-7046. Data complied on 03/25/2016 and is subject to change. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

***Caption for the graph: Suissevale sales statistics and current inventory.

03-26 Suissevale beach
One of Suissevale's beaches. (Courtesy Photo)

03-26 Suissevale beach.jpg

03-26 Suissevale marina
Suissevale's on-site marina. (Courtesy Photo)

03-25 Suissevale marina.jpg

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 858

Bob Meade - You be the judge. . .

Quite a bit of press coverage has been given to the arrest by federal authorities of Rochester's Marine Corps veteran Jerry DeLemus, for his involvement in the Cliven Bundy grazing land case in Nevada. Before passing judgement on Mr. DeLemus, please take a few minutes to digest some background information.

The grazing land in question, in Clark County Nevada, had been the property of the Nevada territory until it was taken over by the federal government as part of the agreement for Nevada to become a state. For about the last 20 years, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been arguing with Mr. Bundy over fees for the grazing area. Bundy has, for decades, maintained the fencing and the water supplies that are necessary for the cattle to graze. His family and others have been grazing their cattle on the land for over 150 years.

In 2014, things came to a head when BLM personnel went into the grazing area, which is over 150,000 acres, and began rounding up Bundy's cattle, to get them off the property and to try and sell them. That's when local ranchers/citizens, and others like Mr. DeLemus, joined together to protest what they believed to be significant government overreach.

A number of Western states have been meeting with the objective to have the federal government return their control over the public lands back to the states. There are many reasons for doing so but, primarily, the lands contain a plethora of valuable natural resources the state's believe should be under their and/or their citizen's control and ownership. (http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Cliven-Bundy-Western-federal-lands/2014/04/21/id/566804/)

Since that protest standoff in 2014, the federal government has been targeting people who were involved in the protest . . . Jerry DeLemus is part of that targeting effort. At this writing, he is being held in federal custody, without bail, and will be transported to Nevada to be prosecuted. News reports have indicated that rancher Cliven Bundy, if convicted, may face life in prison.

Now consider this other sequence of events that occurred during those same time lines. Back in 2011, Senator Harry Reid's son, Rory, was a commissioner in Clark County, Nevada. Senator Reid and his son went on a trip to China and met with a large manufacturer of solar panel equipment, the ENN Energy group.

Upon returning to the United States, Commissioner Reid arranged for 6,000 acres of Clark County Nevada land to be sold to the ENN company, at less than market value, so that they could build an extensive solar panel energy farm on the property. But, a significant problem arose as the acres in question were the habitat of the "Desert Tortoise", which just happens to be an endangered species. And, if the solar panels were to be installed on the property, they would generate so much ground heat, it would kill the endangered tortoises. A decision was made to relocate those creatures to a different spot . . . apparently the grazing area that had been maintained and used by the Bundy family and other ranchers for over a century and a half.

Rory Reid is now an attorney/lobbyist for the ENN Energy group and, the person who heads up the Bureau of Land Management is Neil Kornze, who was on the staff of Senator Reid, from 2003 until 2011. He was then transferred to BLM to serve as acting deputy director for Policy and Programs. He served in that position until November of 2013, when he was nominated for the position of director of the BLM. He was confirmed in April of 2014.

The First Amendment gives the people the right, ". . . to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The Tenth Amendment states, ". . . powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

Those wonderful words seem to lose their effectiveness when they have to compete with the power of political insiders. In this case, Bundy and other ranchers have felt, and are feeling, the full strength of the federal government . . . which is arresting them with the prospect, if convicted, of serving long-term jail sentences. And, even if the ranchers/protesters are acquitted, it appears the government has taken away their right to make a living doing what they and their families have done for over 150 years.
I don't think the founders intended for government to be so oppressive. Nor do I think the founders intended for well-connected individuals to be able to profit at the expense of the citizenry.

You be the judge.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 654

Susan Estrich - Why superdelegates count

Every time I see a tally of the delegate race that excludes so-called "superdelegates," I have to laugh. "Of course they count," I want to scream at The New York Times, which otherwise offers a flawless tally. That's precisely why I, and a minority of others, fought so hard against the introduction of superdelegates. Now I've been fortunate to live long enough to finally see them do what they are supposed to: Keep the party from driving off a cliff. And yet, no one wants to count them. What did we do wrong?

Let's start with the numbers. Those are clear. The Democrats have a nominee. With more than half the delegates already selected, Hillary Clinton is leading Bernie Sanders by more than 700 delegates — 1,690 to 946. For him to close the gap, he basically has to wipe her out everywhere, which isn't happening.

"But wait," you say. "You've included the superdelegates in your tally. They haven't all picked their candidate." For the record, 583 of the approximately 700 automatic delegates — automatic because they are elected officials or members of the Democratic National Committee (which, by the way, makes these rules) — have already declared their preferences. And that's not even mentioning the imbalance among pledged delegates. The insiders are for Clinton, by a vote of 467 to 26.

Wipeout. Just what is supposed to happen. Lest those pesky Democratic grass-roots activists and loser-lover types be inclined to drive the party over a leftward-hanging cliff, the establishment is supposed to step in to ensure that we nominate the electable candidate.

This is precisely why I was against superdelegates. It's why I (thank you to the late Bill Safire for figuring this out) was actually the one to coin the term "superdelegates," a term meant to oppose the creation of just such a powerful voting bloc of white men. Or that's what I said in The Washington Post, as I recall. It was also true, I can say in retrospect, that I took that position because I was inclined to leftward-hanging cliffs and figured the so-called "superdelegates" would be putting the brakes on my candidates.

How time changes things. The superdelegates were slow to move in 2008, notwithstanding Clinton's establishment roots, because Barack Obama's surprisingly broad appeal left Democrats who need to win for a living moving cautiously, so as not to get ahead of their constituents. For fear of offending one group or another, they stayed neutral, at least until their states voted.

This time, the superdelegates moved early and gave Clinton a huge margin of error. In the end, she won't need it, but the end looks both closer and more inevitable when you do the numbers to include the 467-26 margin among unpledged delegates.

It's ironic, to say the least, to watch Republicans, whose system was supposed to allow a winning candidate to consolidate his gain with big winner-take-all primaries, now struggling to put the brakes on a runaway train, and with no big blocs of delegates to do it.

And the Democrats? I'm afraid to say it, but we grew up. I remember what it was like to be on the trail in 1980 for Ted Kennedy, when we didn't have a chance of the nomination. We had those same kinds of pesky numbers, but we were fighting for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, and I don't think I've ever had a better time in politics in my life — except that we lost. And then Democrats lost in the general election. And the next one. And the next one.

And by the time Bill Clinton came around — who happened to be part of what I fondly termed the "little white boys caucus," which supported superdelegates — Democrats had lost enough to understand that the purpose of the nomination process was to pick a candidate who might win, rather than define the heart and soul of the party. That is why we have superdelegates, and why they most assuredly do count.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 594

DuBois — Double your pleasure with Prospect and Plymouth

By Gordon DuBois

Prospect Mountain, 2064 feet, and Plymouth Mountain, 2,197 feet, sit few miles from each other and provide an opportunity for hiking enthusiasts to enjoy a trek of two summits in one day. The trail head of Plymouth Mountain is located within a few miles of Main Street, Plymouth and Prospect Mountain, in the town of Holderness, is only three miles from Plymouth's Exit 25 off I-93. It's interesting to note that there this another Prospect Mountain in Lancaster located in Weeks State Park, which is also an interesting climb. However, we'll stick close to home.

A few weeks ago, I had no knowledge that these two mountains even existed or that they had well maintained trails to their summits. Then my good friends Steve and Beth Zimmer invited me to climb Prospect Mountain. I jumped at the opportunity to get out of the house for a day with Reuben. We met them at our usual rendezvous spot, the I-93 Exit 23 Park and Ride. After a 15 minute drive on I-93 we left the highway at Exit 25, turned onto Holderness Road toward the Holderness School, and at the hockey arena turned left onto Prospect Mountain Road. From Exit 23 it was only a three mile drive until we found the trail head. It was a small turn-off where we could park our cars. Located across the road was a small white farm house with a red barn.

We began our hike on an old tote road. There was a slight covering of snow and some ice on the trail so we donned light boot traction and climbed leisurely past old stone walls and through stands of oak, maple and birch. The wide pathway, which was once a wagon road, gradually narrowed to a foot path. It followed the ridge line, leveled off and came to an outcrop of rock that provided a clear view of Squam Lake and the Ossipees beyond. After a short walk the trail again took us over another rock outcrop that had wonderful views of the valley below. We reached the summit a short time later and found a canister nailed to a tree that marked the summit of Prospect. We signed in, had a bite to eat and explored a trail that appeared to head down the other side of the mountain. Not wanting to descend off the mountain, we back tracked to the loop trail that led us back down the mountain. On our way off the mountain we found several other marked trails that led us through other sections of the mountain. One could easily get disoriented and lost by taking this alternate system of trails that appeared to be single track mountain bike trails. So, hikers should be sure to stay on the well-trodden main trail. I made a note to return here in summer, with my bike in tow, to continue my exploration of Prospect Mountain.

For many years, Plymouth Mountain was climbed using the Plymouth Mountain trail off of Route 3A in Hebron. A newer and better marked trail provides a slightly longer, but more satisfying ascent from the traditional route and provides access to a knob called "Pikes Peak" which has outstanding views to the north and east. This trail begins off Old Hebron Road in Plymouth. There is ample parking in the large clearing and a kiosk marks the beginning of the Fauver Link Trail, which winds through the Fauver Preserve, land that's protected by a conservation easement.

On the day Reuben and I hiked Plymouth it was overcast, with rain predicted later in the day. As I began my hike it was clear that I would again need foot traction. The trail was covered with water flows that were frozen, making walking without traction extremely dangerous. After reading the information on the kiosk I began on the Fauver trail, marked with yellow and blue blazes. The trail climbed moderately on an old woods road and then turned onto a narrow footpath. At .4 mile I crossed a large logging road and found the beginning of the Sutherland trail on the other side of the clearing. This trail crossed conservation land and is also marked with yellow blazes. We followed the Sutherland trail through beautiful stands of Hemlock, interspersed with some hardwoods. There were numerous beech nuts laying on the ground that I'm sure deer, rabbits and other varmints have feasted on. At .9 mile I reached a side path that led to a rocky knob that provided some restricted views. Continuing on my journey, the trail began to climb more steeply, crossing several rock out crops and at two miles I came to the Pikes Peak outlook. I continued my scramble over several ledges, treading carefully, due to the extremely dangerous ice pack on the trail. There were several locations where I needed to bushwhack to avoid some of the more difficult sections of ice. After another half mile I found the summit of Plymouth, which offered restricted views. After exploring the summit and other rock outcrops nearby, I made my descent back to the car.

Both these hikes of Plymouth and Pleasant Mountains can be completed in one day and offer a fun-filled adventure for the entire family. Children would especially love scrambling over the many rock outcrops on Plymouth. A good lunch at noon can also be found at several restaurants in Plymouth. I would strongly suggest that you wait another few weeks until warmer weather arrives and the ice has disappeared from the trails. For the hiking community this has been the year of ice. Stay safe and continue to enjoy the winter, it's not far from ending.

 

summit of Plymouth Mountain.

Summit of Plymouth Mountain. 

  • Category: Columns
  • Hits: 434