Hancock Select Board says no to Hancock Inn paving offer

The Hancock Inn.

The Hancock Inn. unknown—COURTESY PHOTO

By CAMERON CASHMAN

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-23-2024 11:31 AM

The Hancock Select Board has decided not to accept the Hancock Inn’s offer to pave about 80 feet of Tombstone Territory, the short street between the inn and the Hancock Town Library that leads to Norway Plain Cemetery.

While the board appreciated the offer, Chair Ginger Smith said during Monday’s meeting that accepting the offer “opens up a can of worms. It’s a town road, so we just have to be careful of that.” If the town wanted to pave the road, it could follow the normal process of doing so, without the need to develop an agreement between the town the inn.

“If we’re going to pave that road, it will be through a warrant article,” said Town Administrator Jonathan Coyne.

“The inn is welcome to do what they want with their parking lot,” Smith said. “We’re welcome to do what we want with our road.”

Once the town decides to pave the road, it hopes to also expand the town library’s parking. Paving Tombstone Territory will be considered for next year’s town warrant as the budget is developed later this year.

Additionally, the Hancock Inn is seeking permission from the town’s Historic District Commission to make several cosmetic changes to the property, which represent a step forward in reopening the inn. The inn hopes to install two ornate wrought-iron gates at the perimeter of the property’s garden, remove the wooden picket fence which was formerly behind the inn, add recessed lights in the ceiling of the porch and remove the existing “Hancock Inn” sign that stands on the edge of Main Street. 

The street sign would be replaced by a polished nickel placard mounted on the front of the inn next to the front door.

Newest Select Board member Betsy Villaume, who serves as the board’s liaison to the Historic District Commission, said a public hearing to discuss the proposed changes to the inn will occur on Tuesday, May 28. The hearing will start with a site visit at 6 p.m. at the Hancock Inn, and the hearing will be at 7 p.m. at Hancock Town Hall.

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In another matter, Smith said that the Hancock Fire Association is putting a team together to start the process of cleaning out the old fire department, which is currently used for storage by the fire association. The Select Board hopes to get it cleaned out so other town organizations, such as the recreation committee.

Additionally, Hancock Conservation Commission member J.P. Bernier met with the board to provide a brief update on the Recreational Trails Grant the town hopes to secure to perform light maintenance on the segment of the Old Rail Trail that runs through town. Bernier said that he was confident that there was a good chance the town will receive the grant, as the segment is a part of a larger trail that runs through Peterborough and up into Hillsborough. Peterborough had previously used Recreational Trails Grant funds to maintain its segment of the trail, but Hancock’s side requires some light work. 

Bernier will be reaching out to landowners along the trail to make sure they are fine with work being done on the trail. Coyne is in the process of completing the application, which must be submitted by June 14.