The Bulletin Board

Bill aims to address possible relocation expenses for pair of Lakes Region emergency centers

By: - March 4, 2022 1:48 pm
Sign for the former Lakes Region Facility

The former Lakes Region Facility property is 220 acres. (Alan MacRae | New Hampshire Bulletin)

A bill that would require the state to help pay to relocate two emergency operations if the 220-acre former Lakes Region prison site sells may mean little if the state is right in predicting the property may sell for little or nothing.

Just moving Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid, which dispatches for 35 towns, has been estimated to cost its member towns at least $7 million. Moving the backup 911 call center is expected to cost millions more.

As introduced, House Bill 1548 sought to prohibit the state from including the parcel that houses both in the sale. 

In a 23-0 vote, the House Public Works and Highways Committee is recommending the House pass its amended version, which would permit that parcel to sell but require the state to use some of the proceeds for relocation expenses. 

In a request for proposals, the state Department of Administrative Services warned bidders interested in helping the state market that the property the site may sell for “close to zero dollars.” For that reason the department proposed two forms of payment: a commission of the selling price and direct payment for creating the plan in case no buyers come forward or the property sells for little.

The state has attempted to sell the property before, without success. While its waterfront views and proximity to a large state park are selling points, the site has nearly 30 large buildings in various states of disrepair that may need to be removed.

“As a result, all previous attempts to attract and retain a qualified real estate services firm to effectively market the property failed,” the state wrote, “in large part because no qualified firm would agree to invest in the necessary substantial up-front preparation work to be able to market the property effectively when the risk of being unable to recover the cost of such work seemed so high.”  

It’s one of two bills related to the Lakes Region site set to go before the House Thursday.

The committee voted, 23-0, in favor of killing the second, House Bill 1032, which would repeal the right of the governor and Executive Council to sell the property without the typical state oversight. That provision was included in the state budget.

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]