LACONIA — A regional sports center, a hotel, housing, commercial businesses and a wellness facility are included under a master plan for redeveloping the former Laconia State School property.
The Lakeshore Planning and Redevelopment Commission will take public comments on the plan, which is still in a draft stage, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the middle school.
Commission Chairman George Bald said the plan, which relies on consultant reports, would be refined based on those comments and with input from state and city officials.
The commission is charged with finding a way to generate jobs and boost the economy through a new use for more than 200 acres of state land at Meredith Center Road and North Main Street that once was home to the State School for those with developmental disabilities.
Key elements include:
— A 30,000- to 40,000-square-foot regional sports center to be used for indoor courts and recreational uses. The goal would be to attract tournaments that would also bring families to the area and boost tourism businesses.
— A 40,000- to 100,000-square-foot wellness facility for clinical and specialty care as well as other provider services. Such a facility would include higher-paying jobs.
— A 100- to 150-room resort style or boutique hotel, preferably in historic buildings on the former State School site.
— A residential component of 75 single and duplex homes, 150 middle-income starter homes, 120 market rate apartments or town homes. Planners say more housing could attract more workers at a time when businesses are having difficulty filling open positions or expanding.
— A commercial component of 10,000 square feet of retail, a 5,000- to 7,500-square-foot restaurant and 7,500 to 15,000 square feet of commercial office space.
— A community space for training and classes.
— Protected open space (amount to be determined)
Beach advisory lifted
GILFORD — The state Department of Environmental Service on Thursday lifted a warning to the public that the presence of fecal bacteria was making Ellacoya State Park Beach unsuitable for wading or swimming.
Water samples taken Monday showed that bacteria standards had exceeded state standards. New tests showed that the water quality had returned to acceptable levels.
Amanda McQuaid, DES beach program coordinator, said Ellacoya and Weirs Beach in Laconia are so busy that when fecal bacteria exceeds standards, human causation is presumed. Elsewhere, waterfowl can cause high bacteria counts.
Both beaches were extremely busy during the 4th of July holiday.
LACONIA — Jane Whitehead, the chairwoman of the Laconia Heritage Commission, said she will meet with a city attorney to see if she and another commissioner need to recuse themselves from matters involving St. Joseph Church.
The Wednesday night meeting of the commission ended after attorney Christopher Boldt, representing the diocese, said Whitehead and Commissioner Catherine Tokarz have demonstrated bias toward saving the church.
“They assumed we are biased, and of course we are, but that’s like saying they might tear down Notre Dame and want me to keep an open mind about that,” she said Friday. “Obviously, it’s an important building. Our job is to determine whether buildings are significant.”
Diocese officials requested a permit to tear down the historic church. After a public outcry, they asked for a delay in consideration of that request and expressed a desire to work with the city to save the building.
Boldt did not immediately return a call for comment on Friday.
They said it:
“We did more substructure work than anticipated and doing it in the winter took longer. We had a small crew and several times we had people out due to sickness and whatever else.”
— Andy Hall, of the state Department of Transportation’s bridge maintenance bureau, on why the repair of a Meredith Center Road bridge will take five months longer than anticipated and won’t be completed until Thanksgiving.
“Rumble strips should be considered for the median lane and for the center. I think it could save lives! I almost witnessed a head-on not too long ago and I was with my family at the time. Yes I called it in but just the whole experience was enough to make me shake. Something has got to be done to make these roads safer!”
— Christine Brewster on a Laconia Daily Sun story about the deaths of eight people on Route 106 in about a year.
Cafe expands offerings
LACONIA — Isaiah 61 Café is now giving out bag lunches at the Rotary Park gazebo in Laconia on Sunday afternoons to patrons who frequent the cafe during the week.
They did it for the first time last Sunday and gave out about 40.
“They’re definitely needed,” said the café’s Peggy Shaw. Since the café is closed Mondays, she said the lunches fill a void between when meals are available at the café between Friday and Tuesday.
The cafe just marked its first anniversary of operating as a place where homeless people can get a meal, a shower, and comraderie.