To The Daily Sun,
I have represented the Lakes Region on the N.H. Rail Transit Authority since its inception in 2007 and can say that if passenger service is ever to return to our area it will begin by first bringing back rail to Nashua, Manchester and Concord.
Under a federal grant to the N.H. Department of Transportation by the Federal Railroad and Transit Administrations, the planning and engineering firm of URS Corp. in San Francisco was hired to study and report on what has come to be called the N.H. Capital Corridor — the 73 mile transportation belt from Boston/Lowell into Nashua and Manchester and terminating in Concord. The 21-month study, comprising multiple pages but with a 50-page summary, looked at existing infrastructure, highway and rail along with various transit options, and what each would cost. Included were various options for expanded bus alternatives, such as expanded commuter service and dedicated "bus-on-shoulder" lanes along I-93, currently being widened as far as Manchester.
Increasing highway congestion within the so-called "Boston commutershed", resulting in 12 mph commute speeds and highways that are at times 25 percent over capacity, was an impetus to this study.
Even with the widening of I-93, which is costing hundreds of millions of dollars, traffic conditions do not improve, it only brings more back-up. So now may be the time to look for alternative ways of getting there.
There has not been a passenger rail connection in and out of New Hampshire at Nashua since 1967. (The first rail connection to the Gate City was in 1837.) Laconia lost its service in 1964 but had the foresight, unlike the state's cities to the south, not to tear down its historic railroad station. Someday it will be key again.
Unlike Maine, Vermont, Quebec and Mass., the Granite State has not yet committed to bringing back its once supportive system of passenger railways, choosing instead the highway option. Maine operates its 5-times-a-day service between Portland and Boston — called the "Downeaster", making stops in Dover, Durham and Exeter along the way and accounting for 40 percent of that train's total ridership. To the west, Amtrak's daily "Vermoner" stops at Claremont Junction.
What have our neighbors discovered that we haven't?
For those interested in seeing what the N.H. Survey includes and recommends, go to the N.H. Department of Transportation website and click on nhcapitolcorridor.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 10:15
To The Daily Sun,
I was sorry to learn Lou Kahn has resigned from the Meredith Selectboard.
I am surprised to find myself writing in support of Lou. The first time I had an encounter with him was a number of years ago. Lou was a volunteer on the Planning Board, and I, along with a number of other people from my area, was fighting the development of some property we hoped to preserve. After a number of meetings, the Planning Board was on the verge of voting to prohibit the development, and the developers of the property asked that their application be withdrawn. For a variety of procedural reasons, things were put on hold until the next meeting. At the next meeting, Lou presented a resolution proposing a solution to a very difficult situation. To the dismay of those of us who were fighting the development, the board adopted Lou's proposal, and we were defeated.
At the time, I remember that, despite my disappointment, I felt appreciation for all the people on that board. These were people donating their time, experience, and wisdom trying to find solutions to difficult issues. No matter what the outcome on that particular issue, there would be disappointed parties, and possibly damaged parties. I was impressed that we had people who were willing to take on such a thankless task.
I remember leaving the four-hour Selectboard meeting on the Route 3 & 25 traffic problem, concerned about the tenor and outcome of that meeting. It had to be frustrating for everyone who had served on the 3/25 committee. Under the format used, I do not think any proposal would have passed that night. There seemed to be no focus to the meeting other than to agree that the solution presented by the committee was not perfect. More than the result, I was discouraged by the process and the tone of the discussion.
I feel that we are very fortunate in this state, and especially in our town of Meredith, to have people who give so much to make our town and our state function so well. I do not think defeating the proposal was the problem. I fear the problem is the way the people who worked for so long and hard trying to find an improvement to an intractable problem were treated. I worry that, as a result, people who have worked hard on our various committees and boards will feel that their efforts are not appreciated. That they and others who might think about stepping up and volunteering will be discouraged by the way others have been treated, and their efforts not valued. I fear that the generous and reasonable people who have been so important in having our town function will drop out and not step up in the future.
I thank so many of you who have served so selflessly for this town, and I hope you will continue in your difficult jobs. I can think of few who have worked as hard as Lou Kahn over the years. Even though you disappointed me with your motion so many years ago, I have never doubted your integrity or your motivation. So a special thanks to you, Lou.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 10:08
To The Daily Sun,
Belmont Residents voting "Yes" on March 6 to demolish the Gale School will not only increase your property taxes, but will be a huge mistake. There are many myths associated with historic property restoration that I am hoping to put an end to in this letter.
1. You can't change a historic building. You have to leave it as is because it's "protected." FALSE
Historic property designation does not require leaving the building as is. All buildings need to be upgraded from time to time to remain viable, it is understood that some changes will be necessary to bring the building up to today's current codes. When alterations and repairs are made, it is important to protect those elements of the building that reflect historic character. Since these are usually the parts of the building that everyone agrees make it special, often there is little interest in removing or changing these elements anyway such as the exterior of the building.
2. A successful business needs a slick, new building, and costs much less than restoring a historic structure. FALSE.
More often than not, historic buildings have great location and impressive appearance. Generally, they are also well known to the community, as opposed to a new building which usually needs some time and promotion to attain the same level of public recognition. Depending on the current condition of the building and its intended use, it's often less expensive to rehabilitate. In fact, rehabilitation can cost up to 12 percent less than new construction. Historic building rehabilitation can also be up to 18 percent faster than building new. (Rypkema, 2003).
Our Gale School is in an exceptional condition (www.belmontnh.net/GaleEducation) (see 2013 Gale School Inspections Town of Belmont vs. Omega Structural Engineers). This structure has significant ties to the community of Belmont. Former students who went through its doors, former students who may have not been in the building per se, but who have built replicas in the classroom of the structure, and who have learned the history of the building. A building that the community honors on floats throughout many Old Home Day parades, and a building that engages curiosity of our youth to know the history of our community.
3. Old buildings are not energy efficient. FALSE.
Because historic buildings tend to have fewer windows comprising the exterior walls, they may be more efficient than newer buildings which have a larger percentage of exterior walls made up of windows. Buildings with a 30 to 40 percent window to wall ratio are most efficient. But, that ratio is typically exceeded in modern buildings because they contain much more glass. As well, historic windows that are well fitted and have properly installed storm windows generally provide an R2 insulation value, about the same as a modern, double glazed window. (United States National Parks Service)
I caution all who vote "Yes" to demolish this building. It will cost $10,000 more in tax dollars to relocate the building. Are you willing to pay to have it demolished, gone forever for a measly $10,000 saved. A 1982 graduate of Belmont High School, has donated $115,000 to place this structure on a sound foundation. Apparently he feels this structure should be saved. The Save Our Gale School Committee stands behind this building.
Go to the Belmont NH Heritage Facebook page to see the many individuals who are fighting for this structure. I want taxpayers to become informed before making this decision, know the facts. For those who were not born and raised in Belmont, step back to your childhood, your hometown, how would you feel about a special building being torn down in your hometown. I realize tax dollars are hard on everyone this day and age, but we as a community can raise the funds to save this building with little to no taxpayer dollars.
Let's move this building to a solid foundation, turn it into SAU Offices, opening up the Memorial Building (current SAU Offices) for full-time kindergarten. Spending no money on portable buildings in the future, and planning for a bus loop around the middle school for safety reasons down the road. Please vote "No" to demolishing the Gale School on March 6, let us save our hard earned tax dollars, and put those spent where it makes most sense.
Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 10:04
To The Daily Sun,
Their silence is deafening. In light of the recent measles outbreak currently sitting at greater than 120 cases in 17 states, including five cases at a daycare in Illinois, I am wondering where those anti-vaccinators Russ Wiles and Dr. Moneysmith are hiding?
Russ who seems to have an opinion on everything, backed up with little in the way of facts, is surprisingly quiet. But I guess when you begin a conversation about vaccinations with this gem from a previous letter: "Medical doctors are playing games vaccines are not immunizations." Remember that Russ. (That remark is) probably one of the dumbest things you have ever written in these pages. When you start with that, you quickly lose all credibility. I think you owe all of us in the medical profession who really taking care of patients an apology. How about it, Russ?
And then there is Dr. Moneysmith. First I should thank Dr. Moneysmith. Without his nonsense about vaccinations and the role of chiropractic manipulations I would have never started my writing career. For those of you who are not aware, Dr. Moneysmith ran an ad a few years back claiming a study by Dr. Pero showed that chiropractic manipulations could improve one's immune system — what was it, like 400 percent. Of course this was a lie. I even promised a reward of $200 to anyone who could show me the study. Guess what? No takers. The study does not exist, how you can claim benefits from a none existing study baffles me.
Misinformation and lies from the likes of Russ, and Dr. Moneysmith along with others like Jenny McCarthy, Deidra Imus and Andrew Wakefield have fueled this measles outbreak. I wonder what disease is next.
Mirno Pasquali PA-C
Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 09:59
A new report on consumer spending shows that consumers are not spending. Economists thought that the savings from cheaper gasoline — hundreds of dollars a year for most — would be hauled to the stores. But non-gasoline retail spending didn't budge last month, flat after falling a bit in December, according to the Commerce Department.
The strengthening job market and expected wage gains should also be making American shoppers feel more exuberant, but no. That's a concern in a country where consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy.
Here's my explanation for what's happening.
There's been a growing aversion to the shopping way of life. There's a sense that the consumer culture has been a con job, epitomized by the sucker punch of last decade's real estate bubble (and attendant mortgage scams).
There's also a feeling that one traditional motive for buying stuff — the competitive race to "keep up with the Joneses" — is futile. The famous 1 percent are pulling away so fast from the other 99 percent that there's no point in trying. Even the "merely affluent" can't compete.
A study in Britain found that money only makes people happier when they have more than their neighbors. It's more about social rank than the number of zeros behind one's personal wealth. A millionaire feels poor in the presence of the superrich.
Thus, the ever-inventive American culture has found a new way to rank people socially. More of us are replacing price tag display with the hip alternative of living in small spaces with fewer, but more curated, possessions. Rather than hire experts to make our closets accommodate more stuff, many are deciding to simply have less stuff. We are driving fewer miles, and many millennials are forgoing carownership altogether.
The Commerce Department reported that the personal savings rate rose to nearly 5 percent in December, up from 4.3 percent the month before. Interesting.
The new social ranking system may be influencing some for whom the money race is theirs to win. The Wall Street Journal publishes a weekly section called Mansion, which centers on luxury real estate that tends to be enormous in size and astronomical in price. But in the aesthetic of minimalism chic, the architectural hulks — with their onyx bars, guest villas and ionized lap pools — seem dated.
So the recent Mansion section had a feature on "little getaway houses," small homes for those who live big. These were not your worn cabins in the woods but spectacular little places, often on lots with primo views.
"Keep it simple," said an investment manager who has a smallish house on the Maine coast — but owns several other homes, where the art is kept. Small, in this case 1,200-square-feet, need not be inexpensive. The house is built on reinforced fiberglass piers that let the waves roll under it. (If you're going to do waterfront, do waterfront.)
Another small house, 1,000-square-feet on Washington state's Padilla Bay, has a glass cover and hand-planed cedar floors. "The more intimate the house, the more it supports the need for connection," said one of the proprietors, who also owns a hacienda in Chiapas, Mexico.
To keep some perspective on what constitutes small, note that families of six were quite content living year-round in their 800-square-foot Levittown houses. But one can appreciate the desire of the wealthy to escape their toad halls for some cozy time in a badger cottage.
Many Americans of more modest means, however, are dispensing with the mansions altogether. You don't feel behind in a race you don't enter. And if these weakened material aspirations are here to stay, things won't be looking good for the consumer economy.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00