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Joe Kingsley studies a board Thursday evening that lists a vision statement for the town of Laconia prior to indicating his preferences. Waiting his turn to do the same is Chad Baker. Taylor Siefker Williams design group conducted the exercise as part of the process for developing a comprehensive plan for the town. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor (click for larger version)

Laconia exercises


February 26, 2014 | 09:03 AM

An issue exercise and image preference survey were part of Thursday evening's public workshop for the town of Laconia as it works to develop a comprehensive plan.

Amy Williams of Taylor Siefker Williams design group briefly highlighted last month's steering committee for the town, although she estimated 70 to 75 percent of those at last week's meeting had attended the Jan. 23 open meeting. Both meetings took place at the town's Community Center in order to accommodate the number of people who attended.

"We're starting to move into Phase 2," Williams told the group.

TSW was hired to oversee the development of a comprehensive plan, thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Community Development Block Grant program (the town will have to put up $4,445 as a match).

Williams also reminded the residents of the small town that has a population of about 50, based on the last Census, that a comprehensive plan is not zoning; there are no laws or regulations involved.

"You have a great little community here," Williams said. "You have a lot of potential ... a good base to build upon."

As she prepared attendees to participate in the first exercise of the evening, she said, "How we really get to know communities ... is to hear your stories, hear your issues."

Attendees were then given a sheet of paper with a list of 59 words or phrases on it. They were asked to indicate which were most important to them and the ones that they would not like to see in the town. The items ranged from different types of businesses to infrastructure improvements to outdoor uses and entertainment.

"This will help identify what you really want here and what you really don't," Williams said.

Next, 20 slides were shown and the attendees, mostly residents or those who own property within the town limits or just on the outskirts, were asked to rate them based on their appeal. The images included housing (apartments, townhouses), shopping (strip malls, storefronts), recreation (sports fields, walking trails) and amenities (landscaping, street lights).

After the attendees had the chance to rate each, Williams went through the slides again and asked for comments. Some items had received strong positive ratings, like an agriculture market, saying they might bring people into the town, while others, such as manufacturing, was seen as a negative.

And those maps of the town that the steering committee and others marked on last month were returned for additional work in small groups. Williams asked each group if what was indicated on the map coincided with their thoughts.

The last exercise involved attendees agreeing/disagreeing with vision and goals for the town, indicating their top five goals.

Williams outlined the remaining public meetings that will take place during the process: Week of April 14, steering committee; week of May 19, public meeting; week of July 14, steering committee; and August/September, adoption hearings.

Debby Broughton
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