GILFORD — Selectmen have restated their wish to tear down Kimball Castle and ask residents to attend a hearing on the matter next month.
In a news release, Selectmen Kevin Hayes, Gus Benevides and John O'Brien made their feelings public, in part because at least one resident challenged their decision-making process on the aging castle, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn.
"Despite the fact that the selectmen have been accused by one well-intentioned citizen of a lack of leadership regarding these circumstances, we are of the opinion that the time has come for the citizens of Gilford to know that the Board of Selectmen is unanimous in its desire to allow Kimball Castle to be torn down safely," the selectmen said in the release.
The goal would be "allowing this privately owned property to remain on the tax rolls and that the land be developed as one single-family home while a plan is formalized for a suitable memorial of the castle on town land," they said.
The castle is the former estate of railroad magnate Benjamin A. Kimball. It has never been a tourist destination. It is located on the northern shoulder of Locke's Hill overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee.
The town does not own the property. By a previous decree, the selectmen are "stewards" of the property, Dunn said.
Last March, the selectmen were notified by the town's building inspector that the castle had become "a hazardous building that posed a threat to public safety because of the constant parade of trespassers who enter the building illegally," the selectmen said.
They said the castle walls have been shifting outward and several archway keystones are missing.
On April 10, 2013, the selectmen voted unanimously to authorize the owners of the castle, the Jodoin family, to raze the castle. Since that time, the selectmen have extended the deadline to comply with the Building Inspector's "make safe" order on three occasions, and the owners now have until April 30 to comply.
The forum on the matter will be held at Gilford Town Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.