2009 Wolfeboro Year in Review
January 07, 2010
WOLFEBORO — The issue of what to do about town offices was not the only controversy selectmen faced in 2009. Conflict at and within the town's Historic District Commission (HDC) also demanded selectmen's attention more than once.
The HDC had been a source of controversy in 2008 and coming into 2009 a petitioned warrant article was filed calling for the abolition of the town's two historic districts. When the first version of the article was found defective (it appeared to call for the abolition of the Board of Selectmen as well as the HDC), a second version was submitted and made Article 36 on the March 2009 warrant. The petitioners (including Selectman Kristi Ginter) explained that they had nothing against the historic districts but everything against the HDC itself. By abolishing the districts the article would also do away with the HDC.
The warrant article failed on a vote of 1,431 to 703.
When it came time in April to reappoint HDC Chair Bruce Fichter and full member Ellen Klimm, selectmen hesitated but ended up reappointing both on a 3-1 vote with one abstention. Klimm resigned in July. She was not replaced until December 7, when in another controversial vote, School Board and ZBA member Charlene Seibel was passed over in favor of HDC alternate Jim Ladd, on a 3-2 vote.
On Sept. 2 Ken Perry appeared before selectmen to read a letter from the North Wolfeboro Area Association (NWAA) criticizing the behavior of the HDC. The NWAA includes members from both historic districts. Perry, who is also an HDC member, spoke as president of the NWAA and said that more than 50 NWAA members supported the statement, which accused the HDC of bureaucracy in processing applications with resulting unnecessary delays, lack of clear guidelines for making decisions, disrespect of applicants and infighting among HDC members. HDC Chair Fichter defended the board's record and its compliance with state laws, while resident Beverly Woods confirmed the NWAA charges and expressed concern about the HDC taking jurisdiction over landscaping along the 19 miles of roads in the districts. Selectmen took the complaints under advisement.
Woods returned to selectmen on Oct. 7 complaining about how the HDC had handled her application for a woodshed and reading a petition that was circulating in the district calling for HDC Chair Fichter and Vice Chair Suzanne Ryan to resign.
While the HDC itself brought in new attorney Rick Sager to help it complete the revision of its rules of procedure, selectmen on Oct. 21 accepted a staff recommendation to hire an outside consultant to evaluate the HDC and make recommendations. Former Local Government Center Legal Counsel Bernard Waugh was hired and, after reviewing meeting DVDs, letters and ordinances, submitted a report on Dec. 7 that concluded that the HDC was "not broken" and offered some pointers on addressing some of the issues raised.
On Nov. 19 after eight drafts the HDC finally adopted revised procedures. At the Dec. 1 HDC meeting, the board was presented with a letter from a group of property owners that called for the resignation of Fichter and Ryan and two petitioned warrant articles were filed to appear on the March 2010 ballot, one calling for the abolition of the HDC and the other to create a separate HDC for the Cotton Mountain Historic District.
On June 3 selectmen voted to drop the board's suit objecting to the decision of the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) to grant Mark and Carol Wiggins a building permit for a single-family home on a 67-acre lot on the Class VI section of Trask Mountain Road. The ZBA had unanimously overturned a selectmen's decision not to issue a permit on March 10, 2008 and the selectmen appealed to Superior Court against the ZBA. On March 12, 2009 the Superior Court had given the ZBA the option of explaining more clearly its reasons for granting the permit and on June 1 the ZBA agreed to do that.
Selectmen also had to deal with objections from abutters to Clark Park to the town allowing the Wolfeboro Area Farmers' Market to use the park for its weekly Thursday afternoon markets. Selectmen granted the license on June 3 but agreed to review how the season went before granting a license renewal in 2010.
With the lifting of the water and sewer hookup moratoriums and the passage of a Wolfeboro workforce housing ordinance, the Eastern Lakes Region Housing Coalition (ELRHC) applied for and received necessary variances from the ZBA and submitted a site plan for the Harriman Hill workforce housing project to the planning board. A number of people, including residents of the abutting Birch Hill Estates housing cooperative, questioned the need for workforce housing in Wolfeboro. The planning board, however, approved the site plan with conditions on Dec. 1
During 2009 the new Huggins Hospital building completed structural steel erection and substantially completed its exterior work. The project is reportedly running under budget and is on schedule for Spring 2010 completion.
All Saints Church completed its major addition in time for Easter services and the Kingswood Youth Center also finished its new building project, opening in October.
The Wolfeboro Inn completed its $4 million renovation in time for the 2009 season, and Meredith Village Saving Bank added a second parking lot to its new Wolfeboro branch; however, the GreatWaters Bank & Trust building project on Center Street was suspended indefinitely during the year and at year's end the bank announced that it had been unable to secure the necessary approvals from federal regulators and was liquidating.
District voters overwhelmingly approved a $67 million renovation of the Kingswood complex in Wolfeboro. Ground was broken on Dec. 2 for Phase I of the project, a new multipurpose building. Phase II, the renovation of the Middle School, High School and Vocational Education Center buildings, will follow next summer. North Branch Construction won the bids for both phases of the project.
Work on repairing and upgrading Wolfeboro's infrastructure continued in 2009. Upgrades were completed to water lines on South Main Street, Pleasant Street and Union and School Streets. The Rapid Infiltration Basin project, designed to increase the town's effluent disposal capacity, was completed in March and the sewer hookup moratorium was lifted. As the basins approached their rated capacity problems were detected and, at the recommendation of Public Works Director Dave Ford selectmen decided to add two additional basins to the existing three.
After a year of pressure from the town Routes 28 and 109 were finally repaved, thanks to stimulus funds. The town is still trying to get the reconstruction of the Route 28 concrete roadbed back on the state's 10-year plan, however.
Daniel Heifetz came to Wolfeboro on Jan. 14 to ask for help from area residents in the form of lodging and transportation to reduce the expenses of the annual Heifetz Institute. Thanks to local support the Institute was able to open again in the summer. The Great Waters Music Festival also made changes to adjust to a nervous economy and hired a new director, Carol Holyoake; despite having to cancel one performance overall it had a successful 15th season. A new festival, Arts on the Edge, was started in the summer.
Relay For Life returned on June 27 and the third NickFest was held after being postponed by rain. The biennial Vintage Speedboat Regatta returned to Wolfeboro on Sep. 18 and 19.
The Vietnam Moving Wall was brought to The Nick in Wolfeboro Sept. 24-27, thanks to the efforts of the American Legion Auxiliary and many volunteers.
Trites Automotive lost its new car financing in March – one of many NH dealers affected by the restructuring of GM and Chrysler in 2009.
The Straw Cellar owners retired and several new businesses opened in downtown, including Emma Taylor and The Restaurant.
On March 12 Huggins Hospital announced 12 that it was restructuring to eliminate 13 positions to reduce operating expenses. On March 27 Huggins trustees announced their decision to close the Huggins Maternity Unit at the end of September due to declining births and rising costs.
Marge Webster won election as a selectman, replacing Dwight Devork, who did not run for reelection to a second term. Sarah Silk was also reelected.
Jeb Bradley ran for State Senate District 3 seat vacated by the resignation of Wakefield's Bill Denley. Bradley easily beat Democratic candidate Bud Martin.
Dan Kusch was named Executive Director of the Applachian Mountain Teen Project, replacing founder Donna San Antonio.
Wolfeboro Police Lt. Dean Rondeau returned from a year's tour in Iraq on May 3.
Kingswood High's principal Paul MacMillan resigned on July 1 to become school superintendent in Littleton. He was replaced by Assistant Principal Guy Donnelly
Assistant Superintendent Kathleen McCabe retired on July 1 and was replaced by Kathleen Cuddy-Egbert.
Rev. Randy Dales, Pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church, was named the 36th Citizen of the Year by the Wolfeboro Lions Club
The town lost a number of prominent citizens during 2009. Among them was Howard Bean, affectionately known as the Mayor of Wolfeboro" for his active involvement in the community, passed away at age 85 on Jan. 11. Wayne Shipman, 93, Kingswood High biology teacher from 1964 to 1979 died on Jan. 6. John W. Schafer, 85, ZBA member for six years passed away on Feb. 9. Lawrence Cedrone, 80, owner of the Lakeview Inn died on Feb. 20. Robert Conrad Schneider, 68, tenor with Clearlakes Chorale and the Great Waters Chorus, passed on April 30. Donald Brookes, 89, former Wolfeboro Parks and Recreation Director, died on May 20.
John and Ethel Clarke, 86 and 87 respectively, were found dead in their home on Aug. 19, victims of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Edna Penney, 81, active with the Wolfeboro Seniors Club, died on Oct. 28.
CORRECTION: In Part I of the Wolfeboro Year in Review in last week's issue, it was reported that David Wentworth was arrested May 19 on drug-related charges. This was incorrect: it was David Wentworth, Jr.