Kiosks will soon debut in White Mountains
The kiosk and another in Berlin will be the first of many that will dot the byways of Coos County, guiding visitors as they travel the region. The Berlin kiosk and others are funded by a $50,000 grant from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Foundation and a $200,000 grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission, but the Gorham kiosk is not.
There was no plan to put a kiosk in Gorham, but Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce Vice President Mark Belanger said the chamber decided such a location would be beneficial. The chamber’s region includes Gorham, at the northern gateway to the White Mountains, and has an established base of tourism-dependent businesses.
The chamber is paying for the Gorham kiosk, with help from the Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC).
On Monday, Gorham selectmen agreed to lease the site on which the kiosk will sit.
“That vote we got the other night was critical,” Belanger said. He said the Gorham lease with the chamber is for five years, with three 3-year renewal options. The kiosk will be in open space, so a solar panel can get sunlight.
He said the kiosk “will take your breath away.” Set on a concrete base, the interactive panels and wifi hot spot will be powered by solar energy.
The Berlin kiosk will be at the entrance of the city on land owned by Public Service of New Hampshire, on the same side of Glen Avenue — Route 16 North — as the Smith Hydro. The NCIC lease agreement with PSNH runs for 20 years.
Belanger said that all the money that the chamber takes in from advertising will go into an escrow account for the maintenance of the kiosks. The main panel will change with the seasons. He added that the advertising space will be sold to chamber members, and concentrate on businesses that cater to visitors. The kiosks, he said, will tell tourists where to eat, where to sleep and where to shop.
If there is room available, space will be open for “friends of tourism” businesses.
The kiosk project came from suggestions made by consultant Roger Brooks of Destination Development Inc. Brooks was contracted by NCIC several years ago to help with tourism efforts. The New Hampshire Grand branding and marketing efforts appear to have paid off, as Coos County’s contribution to the state meals and lodging tax has gone up in an otherwise difficult economic environment.
“They’re pushing people up here, and that what we need to do,” Belanger said Thursday.
“We expect construction to start shortly with the installation of the concrete slab — we expect construction to take about 30 days,” Cathy Conway of NCIC said. “We’ve had delays but are excited about getting the structure up — I think they will be a good addition to the communities.”
The kiosks will have space for traditional brochures, along with a computer monitor linked to the websites of New Hampshire Grand, state travel and tourism and local chambers.
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Sara Young-Knox may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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