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Restaurant foundation destabilized by high water raises Route 3 Bridge, downtown Colebrook flooding concerns

Union Leader Correspondent

July 27. 2014 7:31PM
A long-time mainstay of North Country dining, Howards's Restaurant, which closed last fall after its owner died, is also crumbling into the Mohawk River, which damaged its foundation during storms this past spring. Concerned about potential downstream damage to a bridge over NH Route 3 as well as to the downtown, town officials are looking to stabilize the foundation, which could entail tearing the eatery down. (JOHN KOZIOL/Union Leader Correspondent)

COLEBROOK — Concerned about potential downstream damage to a bridge over New Hampshire Route 3 as well as to area businesses, town officials are looking to stabilize the foundation of a popular eatery that was damaged this past spring by floodwaters of the Mohawk River.

Closed since last November after the death of owner Crystal K. Ball, Howard’s Restaurant, which sits on the northern bank of the Mohawk, may be razed or moved in order to repair its foundation, which, said Jules Kennett, the chairman of the Colebrook Board of Selectmen, also does double duty as a retaining wall for the river.

“We’re looking at every option for the Howard’s Restaurant property,” Kennett said, “but we’re also seeking assistance from FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and the N.H. Department of Transportation on the proper repair to the wall which Howard’s sits on and we don’t know what the outcome will be.”

The retaining wall must be fixed and the cost is put at more than $1 million, Kennett said.

“We don’t have that money,” said Kennett, which is why the town has reached out to both FEMA and the NHDOT for funding and is also working with the Ball family. At the time of her death on Nov. 29, 2013, Crystal Ball had owned and operated Howard’s Restaurant for 18 years.

Believed to have been the longest-running business in the Colebrook village, Howard’s Restaurant was damaged by flooding in the late 1920s, said Kennett, and it partially collapsed into the Mohawk. He and the selectmen are worried that should the building again collapse, it could result in the shutdown of Route 3, which is the primary North-South corridor in Colebrook and much of the western side of the North Country.

Although Howard’s Restaurant has “significant historic value to our town,” the condition of its foundation calls for action, said Kennett, adding that a possible condition of FEMA and/or NHDOT funding could require tearing down the structure.

“I’ve eaten there since I was a little boy,” Kennett said, calling Howard’s Restaurant “a great place to go and a part of our life in the North Country and we do not want to see it go, but we also don’t want our downtown damaged further. We are looking at all options and hopefully we can keep our town history and get our wall fixed.”

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