To The Daily Sun,
Belmont's proposed Historic District Review Committee is responsible for one thing: Determining whether a building is historically significant, and if it is, holding a hearing to review possible alternatives.
Voters should know what this amendment to the town building code won't do. It won't replace standard demolition review, or stop immediate demolition where a building is a hazard or public safety risk. It also won't stop demolition by neglect, and doesn't mean every historically significant building can be saved.
Supporters seeking historic review include longtime volunteers, local business owners, former elected officials and Master Plan contributors from Conservation and Preservation, Housing and Transportation committees. Its filing was timely and endorsed by the selectmen-appointed Heritage Commission in January.
Nationally, demolition ordinances with historic review are a nearly 50-year-old community and neighborhood improvement tool. First community adoption in New Hampshire was 2001. Our state has nearly 50 Heritage Commissions and 60 Historic Districts. All of them take a little time to look at alternatives before the wrecking ball arrives. Franklin, Laconia, Concord and Keene have historic review procedures before demolition, as do Historic Districts in Canterbury, Gilmanton, Gilford and Sanbornton.
Ballot Question 2 simply asks for a little time — five to 45 business days maximum — if a building is 50 years old or more, visible from public right of way or public lands, and if the three member Heritage Commission Review Committee deems it historically significant, using state and federal criteria for Historic Register eligibility.
Ballot Question 38 seeks Heritage Fund support. Since 2005 the volunteer commission, operating on a $1,000 annual budget, has returned more than $5 of benefits for each $1 invested. The fund helps us match grants and develop other opportunities for Belmont. Projects have included energy-efficient lighting for the Mill and Sargent Park, historic signage, bandstand restoration, PlanNH charrette organization, marketing and creating a few new traditions for citizens of all ages.
Twelve years ago the Planning Board adopted a Master Plan vision "...to plan for its future while protecting its past..." We believe our work and partnerships help meet this goal -- and respectfully request support on March 11 voting day.
Wallace P. Rhodes
Heritage Commission Chairman 2004-12,
Belmont Historical Society Founding Member & President
Heritage Commission Chairman 2012-2014
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:40
To The Daily Sun,
The Gilmanton Year-Round Library Board of Directors is asking for your support on March 11. Please vote "yes" for library funding, which will ensure continued operation of the Year-Round Library.
With funding, the library will be able to provide all the services that are currently offered for all members of the Gilmanton community.
The board has made the commitment to raise one-third of the necessary funds and asks the town provide the balance. The board will continue to remain fiscally responsible while offering quality programs and services. Please help the library remain open with your yes vote on Article 28.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:33
To The Daily Sun,
A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a longtime public servant, a family man, and a New Hampshire native — these are a few phrases that summarize the life and career of Executive Council candidate Joe Kenney.
In their desperation, Democrats have begun running from their record of neglecting Central and Northern New Hampshire and have taken to attacking Mr. Kenney. In an attempt to distract voters from pressing regional concerns like the Northern Pass and the devastating loss of doctors and medical facilities across the North Country, Democrats have sought to make the race for the late Ray Burton's Executive Council seat into a brouhaha over social issues.
I, for one, am utterly perplexed as to how Gov. Hassan can say with a straight face that Mr. Kenney stands for "blocking access to basic health services for women" when the crowning achievement of her party — Obamacare — is the very program that will force women and children throughout the North Country from their family doctors and local hospitals. It seems clear that the citizens of Central and Northern New Hampshire need anything but another rubber stamp for the big government agenda of Democrats in Concord.
If Executive Councilor Burton were alive today, I am sure that he would see this race as an important opportunity to have a conversation about the future of the district he so loved. Such a conversation would make it clear that what our region needs is an advocate who understands the complicated economic issues facing it. Indeed, we need someone with an intricate knowledge of infrastructural policy, a commitment to fighting the Northern Pass and preserving New Hampshire's scenic beauty, and an acute awareness of the want for more economic opportunities throughout region. What we need is a man like Joe Kenney.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:29
To The Daily Sun,
It must have been the year 2000. The Executive Council was in town to explain its 20 year highway plan. Phase I of the Lakes Business Park was complete and negotiations were well under way with Gilford for Phase II. I was interested in the proposed Route 106 interchange that would provide access from the highway directly to the entrance of the Business Park.
The weather was nice so I walked from my office at the Belknap Mill to the old Martha Prescott Auditorium at the library where the Executive Council was set up, with all sorts of plans and maps behind them. As I came down the steps and into view, I was greeted by a familiar voice, "The mayor's got something on his mind today!" It was Ray Burton. He stood up, smiling broadly, and shook my hand with his trademark "How are you?" with emphasis on the "you." We had a friendly chat about the city, family and work, all interspersed with Ray's humor.
That was Ray: Friendly, witty, genuine — and fair. He was an equal-opportunity councilor. Ray did not judge people based upon who they were or what they were. He treated people the way he wanted to be treated. Ray could have cared less that I was a Democrat and he a Republican. He did his job non-partisan. I, in turn, regularly voted for Ray because of his tireless work for the city. I would have been an ingrate not to.
So what does any of this have to do with Tuesday's District 1 Executive Council special election? Well, if these are the attributes that earned Ray Burton the distinction as the state's most respected and beloved politician of the last 40 years, then maybe the next guy should have some of them, too.
I believe that Mike Cryans is that person. Mike worked shoulder to shoulder with Ray Burton for years as a Grafton County Commissioner. Mike has the same well-earned reputation for fairness and non-partisanship. The Executive Council wields exceptional power in appointing judges, department heads and other government officials. Mike can be trusted to make those appointments in a fair way, and not based upon some political or social bias toward the applicant. Mike, like Ray, treats people as he would want to be treated. It is no wonder that Ray Burton's family, who knew him best, has given their whole-hearted support to Michael Cryans.
I urge my fellow Laconians to vote for Michael Cryans for District 1 Executive Councilor on Tuesday, March 11.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:26
To The Daily Sun,
We are writing this letter in support of Steve McCormack for selectman in Gilmanton. Steve is native to the Lakes Region and has lived in Gilmanton since 1987. He had a career in the military and worked for the State Employees Association before retiring in 2011. He is an advocate for open, accountable government and wants to bring the skills that he has learned in his work life to help run our town.
Spend any time with him, and you will find that he is open to ideas, wants to learn from us as to our concerns and is eager to dig into the job. It is clear that he is honest and forthright with his views and does not have an agenda or personal animosities.
It is important to note that he came forward on his own to run. He is an independent voice that will look out for the interests of all of our residents. His opponent, Jim Barnes, is a brother-in-law of Selectman Don Guarino. While it is not illegal to have two family members sit on the same board, we believe it is not good practice. The town benefits when there are three independent voices, bringing a variety of perspectives. We do not need to have a board's decisions vulnerable to challenges because of their relationship.
Please join us in supporting Steve McCormack for selectman.
John Funk & Deb Chase
Mike & Pam LaFond
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 08:32