Laconia State School

The three-story Spaulding building on the grounds of the former Laconia State School was constructed in 1915 and saw use as a residence hall and classrooms.

LACONIA — The Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission, tasked with determining the future use of the former Laconia State School campus, is drafting a request for proposals regarding a site survey of the property.

During a Tuesday meeting, commission Chairman George Bald said the commission has $73,000 in unrestricted funds to help pay for the work, which will include a survey of the boundaries of the 235-acre property, retaining a soil scientist to identify wetlands and performing the needed field work to create a topographical map.

As the cost of the work will exceed the commission’s remaining budget, commissioner Chris Shumway, an engineer, said the RFP could be structured in such a way that the work would be done incrementally.

The needed elevations to produce topography of the property could be done via an aircraft fly-over when there is no snow on the ground and the trees have shed their leaves, a less expensive option than taking those measurements every 2 feet on the ground, he said.

According to the state Department of Administrative Services, the state currently pays some $300,000 annually to maintain the property, which represents the bulk of the commission’s $350,000 annual budget.

The existing water and sewerage infrastructure on the property needs to be replaced and is expected to cost more than $11 million. The sewer pipes have crumbled to the point that groundwater is being carried to the Winnipesaukee River Basin Project in Franklin, reducing the treatment plant’s capacity, according to commissioner Robert Cheney. The state also pays $60,000 annually for sewer access, according to the DAS.

Bald said the commission is exploring hiring some grant writing assistance in hopes that federal funding could be secured to replace backbone utilities if the state provides needed matching money.

Karen Barker of Laconia urged the commission not to take over the maintenance of the property, saying she feared that the state would slowly reduce the funding over the years. She suggested a hybrid agreement that would keep the state on the hook if “something really goes bad.”

Cheney said the site is ultimately state-owned and that state must deal with it as long as the state still owns it.

The commission will meet next on Dec. 26 at 9 a.m. at Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering, 71 Water St.

Thursday, January 23, 2020
Wednesday, January 22, 2020