To The Daily Sun,
To the Belmont Town Fathers, the Budget Committee and the Taxpayers of Belmont:
We attended the Budget Committee Hearing on Jan. 13 and learned that the proposed cost to Belmont taxpayers to reconstruct the Belmont Mill and refurbish it for use as the Town Hall will be $3.4 million. Several people attending the meeting asked a number of questions, some of which were not answered, or answered vaguely.
Regarding questions asked about the previous reconstruction in 1998, we were told that a number of studies have been done but not compiled. Apparently the town has several boxes which we were invited to come and rifle through in the hopes of finding the answers to our questions. Shouldn't it be the job of the selectmen to make a consolidated report available to the public of how the $1 million grant and the $215,000 taxpayer dollars were spent in 1998? Some of the contractors who worked on the mill are still around today.
One thing we were told at the meeting of Jan. 13, contracted work was not properly supervised by a party looking out for the interests of the town and there was no qualified professional in charge of the construction.
The town administrator and selectperson in attendance indicated that they had no interest in providing any report to the taxpayers to answer the questions regarding the mill reconstruction of 1998.
Additional questions were asked at the meeting regarding the breakdown of the $3.4 million cost into what the cost would be to do the necessary repairs and use it for the same use as now — that is renting it to various groups including the Senior Center and doctor who currently occupy it and other possible tenants to replace those who have left. Specific costs need to be provided for repairing the fourth floor, fixing the heating system and repairing the damaged brickwork. Also no cost was given for the extra work to expand the addition for storage. Shouldn't the taxpayers have the opportunity to decide if it is in our best interest to spend less money and do the repairs?
Questions were also asked regarding seeking out other grant programs and community loan funds. The only answer we were given was that one selectperson believed that the taxpayers should pay for the whole thing because there would be no restrictions on what they could then do with the building. Doesn't it seem that a $1 million grant would be worth some restrictions as to the amount of rent we could charge since we didn't have to pay those capital costs for all those years?
When asked when the rent restrictions for the mill will end, the town administrator said five years. However, at a selectmen's meeting on Jan. 7, 2013, it was noted that it was four to five years. On March 26, 2013, the town administrator said that there could be an update to the rent the town could charge for the remaining years of the grant based on the town's costs.
Further questions were asked regarding why the town needs 17,000-square-feet of office and storage space for 11 full-time and five part-time employees (less a small amount allocated to the Senior Center) when they are using less than 4,000-square-feet now. It was noted that the Welfare Department would also move into the new Town Hall. But that department doesn't seem to be enough to justify such a huge jump in space needs.
Questions were also asked regarding use of the current Town Hall if they move, and use of the recently purchased bank building. Unofficial answers given were to tear them down. This is also being seriously considered for the historic Gale School.
All of these are legitimate questions that need to be answered in order for us taxpayers to be informed voters when deciding on how best to preserve and utilize the Belmont Mill.
Please attend the following meetings, ask questions and voice your opinion. The first, a bond hearing, is on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 6:30 p.m. in the Corner Meeting. The second, the town Deliberative Session, on Saturday, Jan. 31.
Susan & George Condodemetraky
Last Updated on Monday, 19 January 2015 10:02
To The Daily Sun,
Upon reviewing the Meredith3-25.com website, I printed the map to see how three new Meredith roundabouts would affect my personal driving. According to the Traffic Committee, peak congestion occurs "two days per weekend, 3-4 hours a day, for 10 weekends."So this is for 20 days — 60 to 80 hours — per year, but then comes the Big Disclaimer, that this plan is not going to actually prevent congestion (as personally evidenced at the Parade Road Roundabout during many traffic times).
Let's suppose I need to stop at Meredith Village Savings Bank before 3 p.m., then pick grandkids up at the school. In the most direct route, I would twirl around the Parade Road Roundabout, drive straight past businesses and the fire station, come into the Lake Street Roundabout, exit right, down to the Main Roundabout where the lights are now, bear right, pass the bank to the Pleasant Street Roundabout, drive 360 degrees and backtrack to the bank. Upon exiting the drive-through, I have to backtrack to the Main Roundabout, enter two lanes of moving traffic, drive 360 degrees to exit on the same road, pass the bank again, take the second exit at the Pleasant Street Roundabout, and continue to the school. It gives new meaning to the phrase, "Can't get there from here!".
Oddly enough, my drivers license allows me to turn left, so why is it so unsafe now, especially when none of the proposed changes are based on accident statistics? Another disconcerting fact is that the Traffic Committee did not seek input from the school bus company, fire, police, ambulance, or DPW. Town departments were only asked for comments at an internal meeting on December 23, after the plan was submitted to the Selectboard. Their many concerns are well worth reading, especially the one that notes, "The Lake Street Roundabout was not designed to accommodate ladder (fire) truck access to Lake Street," or, that for safety and maintenance, the median centers should be concrete.
A major cause for traffic congestion include pedestrians dribbling across the road in the crosswalk at Dover Street from the shops to the lake. This proposed plan keeps that pedestrian crosswalk, and also adds four crosswalks at each roundabout, ample opportunity for many more to dribble here and there. The premise that the pedestrians can stop at each median to wait for traffic to pass is wrong.State law gives them the right of way in crosswalks without signals, so traffic will back up in the circles and Rte. 3 in both directions to let them pass. In what world is it safer for pedestrians to cross over one or two lanes of moving traffic than to have a designated light assuring safe passage?
A few years ago, the town planners and leaders of the Greater Meredith Program went berserk when the MVSB installed an electric sign. An emergency Town Meeting was called to forbid any "like" signage that might destroy our "village character". With a third of this Traffic Advisory Committee coming from the Greater Meredith Program, it's director, a founder, and an Executive Board member, I can't believe that they condone the 20 plus reflective, directional signs that come with each roundabout. Add those to the Mills Falls Marketplace sign poles, the tent signs advertising Main Street businesses, crafts fairs, concrete medians, and Hesky Park events, this .3 mile corridor will be confusing and ugly.
My last reason for not liking this plan is that I am prone to motion sickness and driving in circles makes me nauseous.
Last Updated on Monday, 19 January 2015 09:58
To The Daily Sun,
With the Meredith Selectboard approaching a vote on a multimillion-dollar three-roundabout proposal for the downtown area whose construction will take all or parts of the 2017 and 2018 construction seasons it is an appropriate time to learn more about roundabouts. There are many question surrounding roundabouts. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), roundabouts are appropriate at many intersections. Note; they specifically did not say they are appropriate for all applications.
So the question becomes where they are appropriate and where they are not appropriate? According to IIHS the places where they are appropriate are high crash locations and intersections with large traffic delays, complex geometry (more than four approach roads), frequent left-turn movements, and relatively balanced traffic flows. So do we know:
— Is Lake Street intersection considered a high crash location?
— Is Pleasant Street intersection considered a high crash location?
— Is the intersection of Routes 3 and 25 considered a high crash location?
— Is Lake Street intersection considered a location with large traffic delays?
— Is Pleasant Street intersection considered a location with large traffic delays?
— Is the intersection of Routes 3 and 25 considered a location with large traffic delays?
— Is Lake Street considered to have complex geometry?
— Is Pleasant Street considered to have complex geometry?
— Is the intersection of Routes 3 and 25 considered to have complex geometry?
— Is Lake Street considered a place where there are frequent left turn movements?
— Is Pleasant Street considered a place where there are frequent left turn movements?
— Is the intersection of Routes 3 and 25 considered place where there are frequent left turn movements?
— Does the Lake Street have relatively balanced traffic flows?
— Does the Pleasant Street have relatively balanced traffic flows?
— Does the intersection of Routes 3 and 25 have relatively balanced flows?
IIHS does not offer blanket support for roundabouts in all applications. They observe that sometimes space constraints or topography make it impossible to build a roundabout. Geometric design details vary from site to site and must take into account traffic volumes, land use, topography and other factors. Roundabouts often require more space in the immediate vicinity of the intersection than comparable traditional intersections.
Further, IIHS asserts intersections with highly unbalanced traffic flows (that is, very high traffic volumes on the main street and very light traffic on the side street) and isolated intersections in a network of traffic signals often are not ideal candidates for roundabouts.
What the concerns of the NHDOT and McFarland Johnson are with respect to the advisory committee's "3 roundabout" proposal have not been plainly articulated. But they are pointedly stopping short of endorsing the proposal. There is no engineering data for review. It is difficult to ascertain the thought process here.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 January 2015 10:57
To The Daily Sun,
An accurate presentation of our history that conforms quotes to their context in history is in indeed essential to understanding history. I do believe that is what Mr. Veverka is alluding to in his quote from his letter of 12/31/14: "Anyone can put together a collection of founder quotes to make their case." He then goes on to quote from the Treaty of Tripoli, "as the Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" as though this were intended to be used as a civics lesson. That liberals continually roll out Treaty of Tripoli demonstrates the historical bankruptcy of their argument. That Mr. Veverka continues to use it; seems to indicate that he is devoid of any love of history that would cause him to inquire in his heart as to what was happening there, rather he is content to rip off quotes that seem to support his preconceived notion that the founders were like him.
"Treaty of Peace and Friendship" sounds warm and fussy doesn't it? It wasn't. It was negotiated at a time when our nation was very young and very weak and of necessity was forced to sign some onerous treaties. We signed the "Jay Treaty" with Great Britain, in 1794, which was very unpopular at the time, but most importantly it averted another war with Great Britain for more than a decade, and indeed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797 which was short lived due to the continuing demand for more tribute money by the Bey of Tripoli, for continued protection from the Barbary Pirates, pirates sanctioned by the government of Tripoli. We had already paid a hefty tribute with the treaty.
The Barbary Pirates would attack our merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea. They would sell crew members and passengers as slaves. If the person captured were a Christian they were treated very badly and many of them died. At one point there was a rumor that Benjamin Franklin, who was traveling abroad, might have been taken captive. The purpose of the Treaty of Tripoli was to protect our citizens. Tripoli being a Muslim nation and the United States being predominately Christian, it seems we wanted to insure the Bey of Tripoli, whether freely or by coercion I'm not certain, that we would not wage a Holy War against the Muslims, as we were reputed to be a Christian nation. Seeing that our federal government was secular in nature it apparently seemed expedient to emphasize that. This was not a civics lesson for American patriots, and should not be taken to be so any more than forced confessions from American hostages today should be. It was an effort to protect our citizens abroad when we had little might to do so. For the civics lesson we need to take a look at George Washington's farewell address.
Washington's farewell address was first published in September of 1796 and reprinted by virtually every newspaper in the country. This was something almost every American read or had read to them. I think we have a hard time today understanding how much George Washington was esteemed by the people then. Here's what he said about religion in that address.
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?
Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."
Many of these Americans truly took this admonition to heart, as ministers of the Gospel traveled with the westward migration so that the inhabitants of these newly settled territories would be fit for citizenship. This was the civics lesson concerning religion, of that era.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 January 2015 10:53
To The Daily Sun,
For more than 50 years I've heard progressives/liberals/socialists/Democrats (PLSDs) like Anne Rogers (see her Jan. 14 letter in The Laconia Daily Sun) demanding more and more taxes from productive citizens. No matter how much government takes, the PLSDs demand more money.
What major problems do they solve with the money? None. The money funds bureaucracies, wasteful and often counter-productive programs, fraud and abuse, and the special-interests that reward PLSD politicians.
Public school cost increases equal or exceed healthcare cost increases but often provide poor results. Government programs don't make people successful (that would eliminate the need for the bureaucracy), they lock people into dependence on government.
PLSDs don't encourage the economic growth needed to actually help people become prosperous; instead they stifle growth by increasing taxes and regulations. Consequently more Americans are poorer and on welfare than ever before.
The PLSDs claim to need money to fix our roads and bridges, but they spend the money collected for roads and bridges on other things. A few years ago President Obama received enough money to fix all our needy roads and bridges, almost $1 trillion, but he spent most of the money rewarding his political supporters, not fixing our infrastructure.
Despite their false claims, the PLSDs don't care about actually improving people's lives; they demonstrate this by fighting against school choice (which would allow students to escape failing and often dangerous schools) and policies that encourage the real economic growth needed to create good jobs.
The taxes and regulations the PLSDs impose to reward supporters also make people change their behavior in ways that reduce tax income and often further retard economic growth and opportunities, e.g., people work less, they move their residencies and/or businesses to lower-tax states, they change their income sources to reduce taxes (like Democrat VP Candidate John Edwards did), and they generally don't relocate to places where their productive efforts are excessively taxed away.
New Hampshire's elected representatives shouldn't focus on increasing taxes. They should focus on creating an environment where everyone can succeed beyond their wildest dreams.
People around the country and the world should hear that the New Hampshire is the place to go to be successful. Entrepreneurs should see that businesses can start or relocate here and grow, enabling the owners and New Hampshire workers to become wealthy.
Hopefully New Hampshire's legislators will focus on creating an environment that fosters success. That would provide good jobs and opportunities for New Hampshire citizens, and richly fund our state and local governments.
Last Updated on Friday, 16 January 2015 10:47