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Commission Holds Hearing on Mixed Use Options for Laconia State School Property

Robert Garrova for NHPR
Alan Mountjoy, Principal with planning and design firm NBBJ, leads a presentation of possible uses for the 200-acre former home of the Laconia State School

A commission tasked with providing recommendations to the state on possible development of a 200-acre piece of land in Laconia held a public hearing Tuesday night.

In the past, consulting firms have imagined the site could find new life as retirement housing, a sports complex and even a hotel facility.

But attendees got a presentation from planning and design firm NBBJ on Tuesday that imagines all three co-existing on the site along with dozens of starter homes. They call the proposal a "Multi-Generational Wellness Village."

Residents voiced concerns the development could cause traffic congestion and questioned how more ambitious plans would be funded.

Others welcomed the addition of starter homes, housing they hope will attract younger families to the area.


One suggestion was making some of the land available for farming and agricultural activity, a use that hearkens back to the site’s days as the home of the Laconia State School, a residential facility for people with developmental disabilities.


“It’s something that’s already been done, part of the history piece of the facility,” says Laconia resident Thomas Barker, who is supportive of preserving and keeping some of the land for farming.


Lakeshore Redevelopment Planning Commission member Robert Cheney says coordination is still underway when it comes to environmental testing on the site.


“We still hope that we’re going to be able to get out on site this fall and get some field data,” says Cheney.


Commission Chair George Bald says he’s preaching patience to residents who want to see the site find new life.


“Our hope is 10 years from now we can meet again and say, ‘that was the best thing that ever happened,’” Bald says.  


The commission is hoping to have a plan to submit to the legislature by the end of the year.


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