NH city turns detraction into attraction with massive renovations
LACONIA — The Mayor of Laconia Edward Engler cut the ribbon for the brand-new reconstruction of one of New Hampshire's top tourist destinations Thursday afternoon.
The Lakeside Avenue Improvement Project reached its unveiling moment Thursday after months of labor, vision, and frustration.
Lakeside Avenue plays host to the famous Laconia Bike Festival every year and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors, but the city of Laconia knew the location needed a major face-lift to meet standards.
During a speech at the ceremony, Mayor Engler said, "It had exasperated me that we have the largest single tourist event in the state of New Hampshire [...] and yet [Lakeside Avenue] looked like 'you know what.'"
Engler was not alone in this sentiment a year ago and after much discussion among officials, the project's designing stage first began to make Lakeside Avenue an attraction instead of a detraction.
With help from Laconia Water Works, Eversource, and many local partners, head designer McFarland Johnson envisioned a modern, clean Lakeside Avenue that would not only host events like the bike festival, but also encourage more year-round tourism in general.
Once Lakeside Avenue began renovations in September 2016, the construction crews worked nonstop through terrible bouts of weather to complete the improvements from Johnson's vision. The goal was to finish most of it by Memorial Day Weekend for the ribbon-cutting, and Mayor Engler said that despite battling obstacles along the way, all involved with the project worked long hours to deal with problems that arose and finish in time for tourist season.
The project was a massive undertaking because the city of Laconia, along with Eversource's advice, decided to tear up the entire roadway to place the electrical wires underground and re-do the water lines. The process to remove the above-ground eyesores and hide them under the street was the main difficulty faced by the project.
City Manager Scott Myers stated it was all worth it because of how much revenue and investment the new Lakeside Avenue will draw.
For the visitors of Weirs Beach, the new sights will revolve around the quaint light posts and freshly-paved sidewalks, but everyone involved in the Lakeside Avenue Improvement Project knows underneath the surface is where the real work happened.