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January 06. 2013 10:35PM

Moultonborough mulls design suggestions

MOULTONBOROUGH - The planning board held a special meeting recently to discuss the final report of the Plan NH Charrette held this summer. The board accepted the report as a resource that could be used when the town updates its master plan in the coming year. The 19-page report summary identified four priorities for the town, including traffic management and calming on Route 25, enabling safe routes for pedestrians and bicyclists, preserving the visual character of the village and growing the amount of retail, office and residential activity.

Much of the discussion at the special meeting held Jan. 2 centered on a planned intersection improvement project at Route 25 and Old Route 109. The charrette report recommends that a roundabout at the intersection could slow traffic. Town officials, including the select board, have already started looking into road improvements at the intersection.

One of the ideas that came out of the charrette was changing the road into the village in a way to slow down traffic, and installing bike lanes and sidewalks.

Town Planner Bruce Woodruff said that officials are working on the 2013 town road program, and improvements to Old Route 109 and Route 25 are a priority. Since the charrette report makes other recommendations for the town's "gateways," Woodruff said the town shouldn't rush to judgment and spend money on the intersection plan until further review. After much discussion, the planners voted to recommend that the select board hold off on the Old Route 109 intersection project until 2014.

Selectman Russell Wakefield, the select board representative on the planning board, said that intersection has been the subject of discussion since the public safety building went up. He said the charrette report requires more discussion and in more detail.

"There are a lot of things that came out of the charrette that seem to me to be dreams, a vision of what could be. If anything is adopted in the master plan, its going to have to have more discussion and more content. Nowhere does the report talk about the economy. None of this stuff is going to happen unless we have a better economy," he said.

"It seems the vision has gone beyond what's practical in Moultonborough," said Wakefield.

Planners generally agreed the report was a valuable resource with some some good ideas.

"I do see this as a useful tool," said planning board member R. Natt King, who said he didn't think the roundabout was a good idea.

Member Josh Bartlett said he first asked, "What's the rush" when this meeting was scheduled, but he said he understood the urgency with regard to the pending Old Route 109 project. Bartlett suggested that instead of roundabouts, the town could install two speed-monitoring lights at each end of the village.

Planning Board Chair Tom Howard said the board will begin revising the master plan, as is required every five years, this coming year.

The process would include an updated survey of the town's residents. The charrette report will be another tool available to the board.

"Now that it's in the tool box, we'll use it," he said.

Woodruff said the planning board would listen to what the people in town want. Listening sessions will be scheduled to collect feedback.

"The charrette process was a starting point, and a guide," he said.

lmulkern@newstote.com


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