By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Business owners at the northern end of Lakeside Avenue at The Weirs have raised concerns abut the decision of the city officials to lease spaces on the northeast side of the street straddling the crosswalk and just beyond the Winnipesaukee Pier to food vendors during Motorcycle Week.
In recent years, the five 12-foot-by-10-foot spaces, all on property owned by the city, have been leased to three vendors, two whom lease two spaces apiece. Speaking to the City Council Monday, attorney Joe Driscoll IV said that size, particularly the height, of the food trucks obscures locally owned businesses in the vicinity. At the same time, he said that the crowds in line to be served by the vendors and the heavy traffic on the crosswalk discourages people from patronizing the local businesses, including a number of restaurants.
"It's an insult," said Mike Ames, owner of the Winnipesaukee Marketplace, one of the restaurants in the neighborhood, of the decision to rent the spaces to food vendors. "They're blocking our businesses. It's not helpful. It's really putting a big hurt on us." He said that when the city first decided to lease the spaces, local business owners were told they would not be leased to food vendors, and when they were leased to food vendors the local businesses were neither informed nor consulted. "It's not right," he said, "put some vendors back like you originally promised us."
City Manager Scott Myers said they chose to lease those spaces rather than spaces on the boardwalk to food vendors, because they required the infrastructure to prepare food and dispose of waste water. But he acknowledged that since the vendors began as relatively small operations, they have expanded their operations from a commercial grill to large vehicles.
Driscoll reminded the council that vendors have begun to show interest in leasing space for the rally in June and urged councilors to "act sooner rather than later."
The five vendor spaces circled in yellow are at issue for Motorcycle Week. Businesses at the northern end of Lakeside Avenue at The Weirs are upset at the competition for business during the annual event. (Courtesy graphic)