A public hearing on the plans for a new welcome center beside Franconia Town Hall and potential uses for the vacant town-owned parcel at 192 Main St. is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at Lafayette Regional School.

Both are located at opposite ends of the Franconia village.

At the annual town meeting in April, voters rejected an article asking them to raise $275,000 to build a new welcome center to replace the existing building that is aging.

($100,000 would have come from the buildings and maintenance capital reserve fund, $25,000 from the Lafayette Recreation capital reserve fund, and $150,000 from taxation).

Since then, however, just a few days after town meeting, a donor put up $250,000 for a new building, Franconia Town Administrator Kim Cowles said Tuesday.

“We’re still working on plans for the welcome center and we have a very generous person,” she said. “We’re working on some sketches and are looking at a single-story ranch-type building, with maybe a post-and-beam porch.”

The new building will have public restrooms and space for the Franconia Notch Area Chamber of Commerce and will eliminate the need for the older white building, beside town hall and in the parking lot, that the chamber has used for many years.

The new structure will go where the red building is currently, beside the ice skating rink, and will replace the red building and provide space for a warming hut for skaters.

The new welcome center will also have space for storage and town recreation programs.

Ideally, if everything falls into place, the new center building would be in place in autumn, and if not then, by next spring, said Cowles.

For the town property at 192 Main St., which the town took by tax deed several years ago, one option is for the town to keep it, with input on uses gathered from residents, and the other for the town to sell it, she said.

“We are still very open to conversations to see what people are thinking for that,” said Cowles.

A third topic of discussion will be about uses for the approximately $109,000 that the town will receive in federal stimulus funding for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every community gets some money based on population,” said Cowles. “They have criteria it has to meet and there’s definitely some flexibility in using it.”

Qualifying projects include infrastructure, such as sewer and water, and high-speed broadband.


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