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Relieving Meredith's summer traffic congestion being tied to possible expansion of prosperous commercial area, to the north

MEREDITH — As the Advisory Committee seeking to ease congestion at the US3/NH25 intersection wrestled with unenviable and unworkable choices, Rusty McLear of Hampshire Hospitality Holdings, Inc. yesterday suggested that he and the others with property abutting the critical junction — Albert Miltner of Bootleggers and Sam Laverack of Meredith Village Savings Bank — meet then offer their perspective to the panel.

Selectman Lou Kahn, who chairs the committee, expressed concern that a private discussion among the property owners could compromise the openness of the process required by the Right-to-Know Law. McLear assured him that the property owners, all of whom would be affected by a reconfiguration of the intersection, would participate in an open forum as the statute requires. The committee will likely hear from the three at its next meeting on August 21.

McLear's initiative signaled a growing interest in ensuring that the measures to improve the flow of traffic through the intersection neither significantly encroach on properties adjacent to it nor foreclose redevelopment properties to the north of it, along Rte. 3. Last month, he pointed out that although replacing the intersection with a two-lane roundabout would reduce congestion, it would forestall development worth between $6 million and $8 million on the northeast corner.

A majority of the committee agreed and requested Gene McCarthy of McFarland Johnson, Inc., project manager for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, to assess three alternatives: a bypass, single-lane roundabout and enhanced traffic signals.

In a memorandum to the committee, McCarthy offered bleak assessments of both a bypass and single-lane roundabout. Both options are refinements of earlier proposals that found little support from the committee.

The bypass would consist of a new two-lane, one-way road carrying westbound traffic on Rte. 25 from its intersection with Pleasant Street across Hawkins Brook to Rte. 3, north of the US3/NH25 intersection, where a roundabout would be constructed south of the sewer pump station. The US3/NH25 intersection would be replaced by a single lane roundabout. Rte. 25 from Main Street to Pleasant Street would become a single-lane, one-way road for eastbound traffic and its intersection with Pleasant Street would be replaced by a single-lane roundabout with a slip lane for westbound traffic using the bypass.

The estimated cost of constructing the new roadway and three roundabouts, excluding property acquisition and environmental mitigation, is $4.6 million.

Since the bypass was proposed as an alternative to a two-lane roundabout at US3/NH25 intersection, McCarthy said that the traffic flow was modeled to measure the impact on the intersection. The results indicated that vehicles would be delayed an average of 3 1/2 minutes at the intersection and traffic would be stalled through the roundabout to the north and onto the westbound bypass.

McCarthy noted that the two roundabouts on Rte. 3 — at Rte. 25 and to the north — would be only 350 feet apart, requiring southbound traffic from the bypass to immediately merge into one southbound lane on leaving the roundabout. Likewise, he said that a single-lane roundabout at Pleasant Street would lack capacity to manage peak eastbound traffic on Rte. 25.

Furthermore, McCarthy projected that the bypass option would halve the number of spaces in the parking lots owned by the town and Meredith Village Savings Bank. The project would encroach on two lots owned by the town and four private parcels. Likewise, he pointed out that there would not be sufficient clearance beneath the bypass for the proposed Meredith Village Pathway along Hawkins Brook. Finally, he reported that state and federal agencies indicated that environmental permits for the project would be granted only with significant mitigation requirements.

A number of roundabouts have been proposed to replace the US3/NH25 intersection, including two single-lane designs, both of which included an additional slip lane for vehicles turning right. The committee was concerned at the impact of these designs on surrounding properties and requested evaluation of a single-lane roundabout without slip lanes.

McCarthy said that a single-lane roundabout without slip lanes would function "above failing conditions" with up to two-thirds of the weekend traffic volumes projected for 2035, which are the benchmarks for designing the project. Modeling indicated that It would fail for at least an hour a day on nearly half the days of the year at current traffic volumes on nearly 80-percent of days at the volumes projected for 2035.

McCarthy told the committee that in order for traffic signals to reduce congestion, the use of the existing pavement and right-of-ways would have to be maximized. He said that two of the five northbound lanes on Rte. 3 south of Rte. 25 would be dedicated to vehicles turning east on 25. Rte. 25 would be widened to four or five lanes, with the fifth lane for traffic turning north on Rte. 3 representing the optimal alternative. He projected that enhanced signalization and additional lanes would be superior to a single-lane roundabout, but repeated that a two-lane roundabout at the junction offered the most effective option.

After the meeting Kahn indicated the despite its drawbacks, the proposed bypass warranted further consideration. While other options might address the traffic problem, they would neither enhance the value nor further the development of property on either side of Rte. 3, north of its intersection with 25. The bypass, he suggested, represented an opportunity to expand the bounds of downtown to include this stretch of Rte. 3. Nor, as John Edgar, director of community development, reminded the committee would abandoning the bypass and roundabout at Pleasant Street improve access to commercial properties to the east.

Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 12:27

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Are Belmont youngsters still interested in skate park?

BELMONT — Selectmen tasked Parks and Recreation Director Janet Breton Monday night with reaching out to the recreating public and learn from them if they want to continue with the Belmont Skate Park or if it should be converted to a bicycle park.

Breton raised the topic with selectmen when she told them the approaches to the cement structures in the skate park have been crumbling and the people who use it are mostly there with bicycles.

She said she couldn't tell if skaters weren't using it because the asphalt approaches are in poor condition or if skateboarding is falling out of favor with the younger people.

Breton said the approaches were "like a dip" and skaters could "go flying."

She said her real concern is that if the town doesn't provide a skate park then the rest of the village will turn into one and with all the money spent recently to upgrade the village, she fears skateboards will cause damage.

She also mentioned to selectmen that the bathrooms at the park are not handicap accessible and there are some problem with the limited space in the parking lot. Breton said she doesn't want the parking lot and the bathrooms to become an "eyesore."

Selectman Jon Pike said the first thing she should do is reach out to the people who use the park and find out what they want.

He also noted the parking lot is being shared with the construction team for the village revitalization projects along School Street and when the project is complete the lot should go back to the condition it was.

Breton also suggested that the town could consider some kind of splash park should they learn the people no longer want a skate park.

Selectman Ron Cormier suggested Breton track the usage of all of the park features and create from that information a priority sheet she can bring to the board for planning purposes at during the next budget season that begins in this autumn.


CAPTION: (Belmont Skate Park) The jumps at the Belmont Skate Park on Sargant Street are showing their age and Parks and Recreation Director Janet Breton wants input from the community to see if the park is still as popular as it once was. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)

Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 01:24

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Franklin landlords admits to arson - 206

FRANKLIN — The owner of an apartment building at 4 Pleasant Street has admitted he set the October 5, 2012 fire and has been sentenced to a year in the Merrimack County Jail. Peter Welch, 46, pleaded guilty to one felony count of arson and one felony count of reckless conduct, according to a statement released on Thursday by Fire Chief Kevin LaChapelle, Police Chief David Goldstein and State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan.

Welch was also sentenced to a two to five year tern in the State Prison, but that sentence was suspended as part of a plea bargain process. Open his release from the county jail he will be on probation for three years. He was also ordered to pay $5,613.96 in restitution.

"Our department and community are grateful for the immense teamwork that was exercised throughout this entire case," commented Chief LaChapelle. "Mr. Welch's actions placed many lives in danger by setting fire to this multi-unit apartment building that is located in a densely populated neighborhood in downtown Franklin."

None of the buildings tenants were home at the 5:30 p.m. time of the fire. Ten animals (five dogs, three cats, rabbit and a parakeet) were rescued. The one-alarm blaze was brought under control by firefighters in about a half hour.


Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 01:12

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Belmont taking money from capital reserve fund to finish pavilion & bridge projects

BELMONT — Selectmen voted Monday night to take between $10,000 and $15,000 from the facilities capital reserve fund to give the town enough money to complete the pavilion and the footbridge over the Tioga River that are part of the village revitalization project.

Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said the total grant from the Land and Water Conservation fund is slightly over $99,000 for both both projects and $25,000 of that is earmarked for the footbridge acquired from the City of Dover.

The pavilion will be a covered area, 26-feet by 80-feet and built on a 4-inch cement slab, next to the Belmont Mill. It will used for outdoor functions, concerts and community event. It will be open sided with shingles on each end of the roof portion.

The pavilion will have two bathrooms plus an enclosed storage area and was included in the Village Revitalization Plan. An additional grant for $30,000 was procured for the completion of the river walk along the Tioga.

The money from the capital reserve fund will be used to complete the plumbing and some of the finish work.

Beaudin said the pavilion  is a very simple, carriage-house design and the the construction group of NCM of Gilford has been hired as construction manager. One of the company's partners is George Moretti of Belmont and she said he has been instrumental in the design of the pavilion.

Construction is scheduled to begin the week of July 28 and should be finished by mid October.


Last Updated on Friday, 25 July 2014 01:08

Hits: 126

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