To The Daily Sun,
I've read with some interest in the October 26th issue of your paper, the "End of the Line?" article. After digesting what I have read, I realized what a huge mistake that could be in ultimately taking some 7 to 8 miles of track out of the Lincoln/Concord railroad corridor.
The following are some of my thoughts as to the reason I feel that way. I look at Lake Winnipesaukee and the smaller lakes as the basis of the economy in our region. Some of the towns near and around our lakes have taken advantage of this more so than others. Take, for instance Meredith. Look what Rusty McClear and many others have had the foresight to accomplish. The hotels, restaurants, Main Street, a new Mount Washington port, the Winnipesaukee Playhouse and the events that go on year-round. They could possibly create some more public dock space, but they have everything going in the right direction. All that attracts people. It's great for us as residents, second home taxpayers and the people that come here to visit because of what Meredith has to offer.
The monies that have been spent as of late on Lakeside Avenue in The Weirs is a great example of what you can do and not spend a ton of money. Great job. I hope that's only a start. The capacity of the city docks at The Weirs are only rivaled possibly by Wolfeboro. The Weirs area has the base parts to really come into its own with some forethought.
Now let's move to Lakeport. Lakeport has at least three very good restaurants, and a beautiful hotel. It also lies on the shores of Lake Opechee and Paugus Bay. Also, the people of Lakeport take pride in their section of town. Lakeport is ripe for more good things to happen.
Now let's move along the line another mile or so south to that beautiful railroad station in downtown Laconia. The powers-that-be are spending some $17 million-plus redoing the old Colonial Theatre. How are you going to support that expense without the whole downtown being a destination. Downtown Laconia needs a lot more than the rehab of the Colonial Theatre. It needs to become a destination and get the people there that will spend the money. There is some good food, but not enough, there are a few nice shops, but not enough.
Now, let's put this all together, Meredith has done an incredible job. The Weirs is changing. Lakeport needs more positive change. Downtown Laconia needs to get get beyond the stigma of the urban renewal of the seventies and look at the big picture.
I tell you what, there are so many boaters, second home owners and residents on our lakes and surrounding areas that look for excuses to use their boat, ride a train, enjoy the arts, shop, enjoy a great meal or just have a great day.
My belief is the railroad could play a huge part in the success of this nine or ten miles of the corridor. This idea could extend as far north as Plymouth or as far south to Tilton and Exit 20. Tie these ideas in with vehicles like Molly the Trolley in Wolfeboro. There are hundreds of great things we can do to ultimately make the whole Concord/Lincoln Corridor a true destination
By no means am I saying these ideas are the cure-all. It's the tie-in of many good ideas that make things work.
I'm not saying the WOW Trail isn't a good idea, I think it is. But if you're going to walk all the way from Belmont to Meredith, remember, it's a long walk back. The railroad is a great tourist attraction and has been in existence since the mid-1800s. Why would someone ever suggest that it should be eliminated and replaced with a bike/walking trail.
It appears to me that sometimes we have too many "small thinkers" in positions that should be filled by "big thinkers."
I say that with total respect to anyone who works to make things better for all of us. And I thank every one of you for that.