To The Daily Sun,
It seems that the Town of Gilford is prepared once again to violate the intent of a property donor.
Selectmen have gone on record stating, "the Board of Selectmen is unanimous in its desire to allow Kimball Castle to be torn down safely with a goal of allowing this privately owned property to remain on the tax rolls and that the land be developed as one single family home...."
The selectmen have absolutely no business offering assistance to the current property owner by helping eliminate a residential deed restriction on the property, thereby enhancing its value. The Town of Gilford was given the castle and its property with specific instructions on its use. These intentions have been violated once before when the town pushed to get approvals for a restaurant and inn many years ago. Charlotte Kimball made it clear the property was not given for residential use and I have been told by the town administrator that there is a deed restriction prohibiting residential use of the castle property in place at this time.
Any negotiations between the Town of Gilford and the castle wwners to allow a residence on the castle property must be terminated out of respect for the donor.
The owner is not without options. He could always build the proposed inn and restaurant he fought to obtain from his limited partners. He could also honor the order requiring a fence or demolition of the castle he watched erode during his ownership.
Perhaps if he just fences it in, it may have more value to the Kimball Wildlife Forest Committee that is seeking the property. So what is it really worth? Since the buildings are worthless, I submit to you that the current assessment for the land, with its deed restriction in place, is fair. That number is $190,090.
This is fair market value for a single parcel with limited access and a residential deed restriction.
The Town of Gilford should be supporting the Wildlife Forest Committee not the castle owner. The town should take the property by eminent domain and soon after with the help of limited grants and private donations, sell it to the Wildlife Forest Committee for its real value. If the wwner fences it in (which is less expensive than proper demolition), the castle will remain eligible for Historical Register status. This may preserve some value of the castle property.
Remember, the Town of Gilford holds a mortgage for a large percentage of the real value. Accordingly, the capital outlay should be both nominal and temporary while the Wildlife Forest Committee raises the funds to support the purchase of the property at a realistic and appropriate value.