By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | September 12, 2018
Selectman Lucier held forth on the History of Milton and its implications, as he sees them, at the Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting of Monday, September 10, 2018.
Chairman Thibeault: Alright, next on the agenda, History of Milton.
Selectman Lucier: I put this on just to kind of shed some light on what’s going on in the … in Milton. I mean, you just brought up as far as bringing people into the beach. I mean – that was – I think that was kind of plopped into my other spiel, but …
You know, the town of Milton was a thriving boomtown. I mean … you had … you had two stores in Milton Mills. You had the tannery in Milton Mills, where everybody worked. So, I mean, now Milton Mills has basically turned into a bedroom community. I mean, you came down … you used to come down, start up … There was no Spaulding Turnpike. You came down [NH] Route 16, this was Route 16.
You had the Christmas Bell shop. You had Dawson’s Antiques. You had Louis Herron’s apple stand, that sold more apples than MacKenzie’s sells. You had, you know … So, this was back in the 70s, late 70s, early 80s. You could come right come down through town, there was Ray’s Marina was booming, everything was booming. So, what, what happened? All the way to Rochester. Rochester was … even [NH Route] 125 into Rochester was booming.
What changed? The Spaulding Turnpike came. In 1978, they started cutting trees and basically that took … everybody that came … went to the North Conway went through Milton. So, they saw Milton. I mean …
And now, we … nothing against Economic Development, I think they’re doing a great job of moving the town forward, of getting businesses back in, which we’ve got to do, but we’ve got to sell Milton. Because, whether it’s advertising or … I mean we’ve got the lake. We don’t have the seven lakes that Wakefield does that draws the huge crowds in and, you know, keeps the tax rates low, but we’ve got to do something to … I mean, I don’t know how … I know that when they put the Turnpike in – that they gave on [NH] Route 75, they only gave two accesses – and that was off to the side of where Frizzell’s is at Commerce Drive. You know they won’t allow anything off the right-hand side and they won’t allow anything, anything off from the Turnpike itself. They kept a 50-foot buffer, so that, so that nothing can be developed.
You know the town of Milton used to get a ton of business off from the … there was a huge mom & pop’s all up and down these streets. I mean, they’ve all gone away. There were antique stores galore, especially downtown. I mean now it’s … you know, Ray’s Marina is sitting there because the State’s put the clamp down as far as what he can do as far as developing … I mean, you had Russo’s restaurant, you had the Craig Keg Room lounge, you had the lobster pound. I mean, there was a ton, a ton of businesses, but …
Thibeault: So … so, that’s the past. How do we …
Lucier: I am just trying to, you know, get out there that … we’ve got to do something to promote Milton. I mean, I like the idea of a State boat launch, don’t get me wrong on that, I just don’t think the town beach is the location for it.
I mean, back in the old days [the mid 1960s?] when we used to be playing ball, we’d have to stop and wait for the guy pulling his boat and trailer out to go across the soccer field, so … You know, that’s the way it was. I mean, there was no … the ballfield – you’d have to got out and pick up a handful of nails before the soccer game, because that’s where the old ice houses were. So, the town, Milton’s changed. The biggest change? The Spaulding Turnpike went through and the State – I don’t know whether it’s something we can … it was actually the Federal government that did it.
That put the kibosh to developing the other side of it [NH Route 75 from Exit 17 towards Hayes Corner and Farmington] because people would like to develop it – both sides of [NH Route] 75, which moving forward I don’t know if that’s something – you know, there used to be – when that Turnpike was built, it was supposed to be maintained by the Turnpike Division, and they didn’t catch it until what? – two or three years ago, when they made the State build a shed down at Exit 16, the State barn at Exit 16. So, the barn right here by – the State shed – by [NH] Route 75 doesn’t plow the Turnpike anymore – they can’t – so, they plow [NH Route 11] all the way from Planet Fitness in Rochester to the Alton traffic circle. From Milton, you know, that’s … but anyway … We’ve lost, I mean, we’ve lost a ton of drive-through business … I mean that’s what … I mean, I don’t know what to do to promote …
Vice-Chairwoman Hutchings: Can I? As [BOS Ex Officio] representative for Milton Economic Development, we’ve just submitted an application to the State to make Exit 17 an ERZ Zone [Economic Revitalization Zone], which will give tax breaks and such to businesses coming into the area.
Lucier: Well, but it’s …
Hutchings: It’s a start.
Lucier: It’s only going to be on the south side of …
Hutchings: But, it’s a start. And we’re working on other ideas to promote business here in town. We just ordered signs, [EDC Committeeman] Bob Bourdeau just ordered signs for – actually the downtown area here is an ERZ area – and the signs have been ordered to be purchased. We’ll put those up here in the downtown area. So that it’s a “known” ERZ. Does it actually help to bring the business in, right now, by putting that sign up? No, but when people see those signs, they realize there’s an incentive for putting a business in there. So, with that being said, the Milton Economic Development is working on … projects.
Town Administrator Thibodou: They seem very active.
Hutchings: They’re active, they’re very active. So, …
Lucier: Milton was volunteers. We’ve got to get more people to … you know, step up to the plate to make things happen.
Previous Milton and the Spaulding Turnpike and Milton’s Railroad Line pieces cover much of the same ground as Selectman Lucier’s recollections. Selectman Lucier does identify the location of the ice sheds (at the Town Beach ballfield), once so integral to Milton’s seasonal ice industry. Very interesting. He does not mention the hotels that sprang up to house the seasonal ice workers or the railroad that fostered this vital local industry, now gone with the wind. (The advent of refrigeration killed the seasonal ice industry in the late 1920s).
N.B. I do not necessarily endorse or agree with Selectman Lucier’s interpretations of the meaning of these events, nor with his and the Board’s prescriptions for what must be done, if anything.
Bergeron, Chip. (2010). The Tannery, Milton Mills, NH. Retrieved from www.authorsden.com/visit/viewPoetry.asp?id=282253
Card Cow. (2004-18). Russo’s Italian-American Restaurant. Retrieved from www.cardcow.com/297493/russos-italian-american-restaurant-milton-new-hampshire/
Town of Milton. (2018, September 10). BOS Meeting Agenda, September 10, 2018. Retrieved from youtu.be/PlwhI_Uz_rs?t=2238