LACONIA — The proposal to redevelop the long-idle Laconia State School property appears to be generating interest.

The Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission, which has been exploring various development alternatives, went into nonpublic session Monday to discuss what Commission Chairman George Bald described as a “confidential business inquiry received by the commission.”

Bald did not elaborate, except to say that the panel would not be taking any vote relative to anything discussed in the nonpublic session.

The seven-member, volunteer commission was created by the Legislature in 2017 to find ways to develop the 250-acre State School site with the purpose providing jobs and generating tax revenue for the city and the state.

The commission has so far targeted between five and six acres adjacent to Route 106 (North Main Street) as the first area for redevelopment — a mix of office and retail space and agriculture-based ventures.

The rest of the commission’s 30 minute meeting was routine until an anonymous person Zoom-bombed the discussion on commission returning to in-person meetings.

Bald suggested that if COVID guidelines permit he wanted the commission’s next meeting to be held in a public meeting space, either at a city facility or the Lakes Region Community College.

Commissioner Peter Spanos said he was in favor of returning to in-person meetings provided that none of the participants would need to wear face masks. If masks would be mandatory, then Spanos said he would prefer continuing with teleconference meetings.

“I think the time for masks has passed,” Spanos said.

Whereupon a male voice can be heard to say, ”What a (expletive) idiot.”

“I’m really upset,” Bald said of the incident, and then, directing his comments to the person who uttered the profanity, he added: “It’s a really small thing you have done.”

Spanos asked that efforts be made to identify where the online call came from.

“If you can find that person I’d like to speak to him. That was unnecessary,” he said.

In other business, Commission Vice Chairman Robert Cheney told the commission that all the contaminated soil on the property has been removed and that a complete report on the removal and disposal of the soil should be complete by next month.

Cheney said a commission subcommittee has been in discussion with the state Division of Historic Resources to consider which of the old State School buildings might be saved and which would be candidates for demolition.


Editor's note: Peter Spanos, a member of the state's Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission, said he never made the statement that, "The time for masks has passed." The reporter who wrote the story was taking contemporaneous notes and wrote down the quote as he believed he heard it.

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