Gilmanton Year-Round Library changes request for funding to a two-year plan in warrant article

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — The newest version of the Year-Round Library petitioned warrant article is for $47,500 for two years.

The change came because there was no public hearing held on the original petitioned article that called for spending $50,000 a year for three years. Without that public hearing, said Selectman Don Guarino, the warrant article would have been invalid if it passed.

Guarino and Budget Committee member Stan Bean both said they attended a meeting held just before the annual Deliberative Session of Town Meeting with town attorney Laura Spector-Morgan, who advised them to reduce the amount to under $100,000, which would waive the requirement of the public hearing.

Both Guarino and Bean said they all agreed this was the best way to approach it and there was no contention about the solution. Both said there was some discussion about changing it to $33,000 a year, but the library representatives said that isn't enough to operate.

Gilmanton Year-Round Library Board Chairman Chris Schlegel made the motion to change the warrant article on the floor where it was seconded and passed by a voice vote.

Guarino said because the proposed agreement lasts two years, it will still need a three-fifths vote to pass at the ballot on March 8.

Davis Place land sale on hold as planners object

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Planning Board will urge the City Council not to take steps to sell property on Davis Place owned by the city to abutting private landowners.

In response to offers to purchase portions of two lots, the council will hold a public hearing during its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Feb. 8, to determine whether to declare to declare any or all of the property "surplus," which would represent the first step in the divestiture process.

When the Planning Board met this week it board voted 8 to 1 to authorize Warren Hutchins, the chairman, to advise the council against declaring the lots surplus. City Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2), the council's liaison to the board, cast the lone dissenting vote.

Harry Bean seeks to purchase portions of 9,810 square feet of untended woodland straddling Jewett Brook, which adjoins the 0.13-acre house lot he owns at 32 Davis Place. Most of this land lies within a sprawling 1.67-acre lot owned by the city that fronts on Davis Place, stretches along the north bank of the Jewett Brook to the Winnipesaukee River and includes a sliver of land reaching from the south bank of the brook to Howard Street. Bean also seeks to acquire a strip of land, approximately 10 feet by 131 feet along the east side of a 0.15-acre lot, also owned by the city, that lies within the larger lot, which he would attach to the larger parcel.

Bean told the councilors he is rehabilitating the house at 32 Davis Place, where he expects his granddaughter to live. The land next door, he said, has been neglected and become a dumping ground strewn with televisions, shopping carts, mattresses and a place where people loiter. He stressed that he has no intention of developing the property, but wants only to clean it up and "just make it look nice."

Meanwhile, Lloyd Wylie, who owns the 1-acre lot at the far end of Davis Place that houses an apartment building, has made two offers to purchase portions of the 1.67-acre lot, which abuts his property to the east and south. One offer would include the portion of the lot abutting his lot to the south and fronting the Winnipesaukee River and Jewett Brook. Alternatively, he has offered to acquire the entire lot, except for the portion Bean has requested and the stretch on the south bank of Jewett Brook leading to Howard Street.

Both Bean and Wylie have agreed to pay the costs of surveying and conveying the property. the property, Like Bean, Wylie said that he wished only to maintain "a clean and safe environment for the community" by landscaping and policing the property as well as address a drainage problem without developing the lot.

City Manager Scott Myers said that Wylie indicated that if he acquired the property, he would be unwilling to grant the city an easement to extend the riverwalk along the Winnipesaukee River. Nor would he add significantly to the tax base by developing the property.

Hutchins became concerned when he read the legal notice of the public hearing, which indicated the council would consider declaring "all or a portion" of both lots as surplus property. When the board met this week, he asked for authority to speak in opposition to declaring the lots as surplus at the public hearing. He read a letter drafted to the City Council saying it would be "premature to divest a major piece of real estate in the downtown area" while the Master Plan was in the process of being updated. Moreover, he suggested several public uses for the land, including an extension of the riverwalk, a city park, a parking lot or a park and ride facility and closed by urging the council against declaring the lots surplus.

Bownes, whose ward includes the property in question, objected.

"What are you doing this for?" he asked. "This really sort of mucks up the works."

He said that the council had "multiple offers" for portions of both lots, but would not proceed without an appraisal of the market value of the properties involved.

"It's just premature," he insisted. "There's not going to be a wholesale sell-off of Davis Place."

When Hamilton McLean of the Planning Board suggested advising the council to delay a decision until the Master Plan is adopted, Bownes replied that "there is not a whole lot of warm and fuzzy feelings about the Master Plan at this point on the City Council." Asking for delay, he continued, "is not going to get you any traction with the City Council."

Hutchins insisted that for the Planning Board to offer its opinion would be "a very responsible thing to do." He said yesterday that "until there is an understanding of what to do with the whole property, don't cut it up."

Gilford/Shaker Gilford/Shaker football to move up to Division II, incorporate uniform changes become a Division II team

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILFORD/BELMONT – Some red striping is being added to the blue and gold uniforms, the ink is dry on the agreement and beginning next school year the Gilford/Belmont Golden Eagles will officially be a Division II football team.

Gilford School District Superintendent Kent Hemingway said yesterday that both his and the Shaker Regional School Boards have approved a two-year memorandum of understanding and both he and Shaker Regional Superintendent Maria Dreyer have signed it.

Hemingway said the combined student population of the two schools is greater than 1,000 putting the program in Division II. Gilford had previously been a Division III team.

The Gilford/Belmont students have been playing together since 2014 at the junior varsity level once the Shaker students were able to raise $7,500 for each year.

To play varsity-level football, the Shaker students needed to raise $15,000 per year – or about one-half of the costs of the entire football program.

According to Shaker parent and one of the leaders of the football effort Eric Shirley, the past few years have been very successful ones for raising money. He said earlier this week, that the $15,000 for the 2016 football season has been remitted and they are more than halfway to raising $15,000 for the 2017 season.

Shirley said they recently held a spaghetti dinner at Greenside Restaurant at the Lochmere Country Club that was the most successful of all three of their previous efforts. He said the sold 199 of the 200 Christmas trees at their most recent sale and that as the program has been becoming more popular, the fundraising efforts are growing.

Shirley said one of the more encouraging things he's seen recently is that more students from Canterbury are participating with the Gilford Youth Program which is a feeder program to the Gilford football team, but is wholly separate. He said it serves children from Gilford, Belmont, Gilmanton and now Canterbury and about 25 to 30 students participate in it.

Clauses in the recently signed MOU include that Gilford is the lead school, that Shaker will be considered in the naming of the team, the mascot and the uniform to which red striping is being added to represent the Red Raiders, and that Shaker will consider future agreements sponsored in the student's interest between the two schools.

The costs of the program will be split approximately 50-50. Hemingway said the entire program costs about $30,000 annually. Shaker students will provide their own transportation and the combination must be approved by the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association, which it was.