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May 4, 2016 8:20 AM

Laconia State School eyed as possible drug treatment center

CONCORD - Some state lawmakers are hoping to breathe new life into the former Laconia State School by converting the 250-acre property into a substance abuse treatment and recovery center amid New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic.

The Concord Monitor reported Republican Sen. Jeanie Forrester introduced a proposal Tuesday that would set up a process for the state to solicit proposals from private organizations to run the center and then lease or sell the state-owned land.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 4-2 in favor of the amendment, which is tacked onto another bill, and the whole package now goes to the floor for a vote.

Sens. Andrew Hosmer of Laconia and John Reagan of Deerfield voted against the proposal. Hosmer, a Democrat, said the amendment doesn’t give the city enough say over what happens to the property, which sits on Lake Winnisquam and overlooks Opechee Bay.

“There’s definitely a need,” Hosmer said. “The city of Laconia has not had enough say in this property for decades.”

The property became state land more than a century ago after a local family donated it. For decades, it hosted the Laconia State School, a home for people with developmental disabilities. When the school was shuttered in 1991, the state recast the property as a minimum/medium security prison for nonviolent offenders. The Lakes Region prison closed in 2009, and since then, the state has largely mothballed the mostly empty property.

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