CHESTERFIELD, N.H. — In another week or so there won’t be much left of the Old Spofford Hall other than the gazebo on the site and the institutional leach field on the other side of Route 9A.
Jim Phippard, of Brickstone Land Use Consultants in Keene, said once everything is removed from the site a 500-foot driveway with a cul de sac will be laid down and five lots on a total of six acres will go up for sale to prospective home builders.
“We’ve salvaged everything we could out of the building,” he said. “Wiring, plumbing, metal ... it all got salvaged and recycled.”
Before demolition began, a private contractor came in and spent eight weeks removing asbestos from the site, said Phippard. The asbestos waste was containerized and sent to an authorized disposal facility. The concrete blocks of the building and the concrete slab it sat upon are also being removed, crushed for use elsewhere as fill, he said.
“The wood, the sheetrock, the ceiling tiles is all solid waste,” said Phippard. “That gets loaded into containers and brought to an authorized landfill.”
Spofford Hall is owned by Nine A, LLC and was built in 1980 by John Chakalos, formerly of Windsor, Conn. The 90,000-square-foot building was once a substance abuse rehabilitation center until it was shuttered in 1995. It has stood vacant ever since.
Chakalos, who also had a home in Chesterfield, N.H., was killed in his Connecticut home on Dec. 20, 2013, shot at close range. His grandson, Nathan Carman, of Vernon, Vt., was named by the Windsor Police Department as the main suspect in Chakalos’ death, but prosecutors declined to prosecute.
Carman’s three aunts have also accused him of killing his mother, Linda Carman, when his boat, the Chicken Pox, went down in deep water off the coast of Block Island in September 2016.
Nine A LLC first applied to build seven houses on the property in 2006, a variance which was denied by the Chesterfield Zoning Board. The case was appealed to the N.H. Supreme Court, which affirmed the town’s denial. However, the Zoning Board assured Nine A that if it came back with a different plan, the board would consider it.
In 2014, the Zoning Board approved a revised plan, by a vote of 4-to-1, to allow Nine A to tear down the old Spofford Hall and go ahead with a cluster development of five lots, keeping the homes close together to protect the lake. The Board of Selectmen asked the Zoning Board to reconsider its decision, but in a second vote, the Zoning Board approved the variance by a vote of 3-to-2. The Board of Selectmen then appealed the Zoning Board’s decision to Cheshire County Superior Court, contending the decision wasn’t in the best interests of the town, before the court forwarded it to Sullivan County due to a conflict of interest.
In March 2019, Judge Brian Tucker ruled in favor of the Zoning Board, writing “The building is in disrepair with built-up mold that makes it uninhabitable. ... In its present condition, the property serves no reasonable purpose. It is incompatible with existing residential uses in the neighborhood ...”
It is estimated that the cost of tearing down the building and getting the site ready for the construction of homes will cost more than $1 million.
This is one of the last developable areas directly on the lake, the other being five home lots proposed by Bob Maibusch of Pine Grove Springs Golf Course.
Currently there are only two lakefront homes listed for sale in Spofford, at $995,000 and $894,000. It is not clear how much a parcel on Spofford Lake might cost. Other than some old camper sites put up for sale about 10 years ago, there has been no lakefront property available.
Phippard said the asbestos removal and building demolition has been monitored by the N.H. Department of Environmental Services and a third-party inspector required by state regulations.
“Everything’s been done the way it’s supposed to be done,” he said.
A wildlife assessment was also conducted, said Phippard, which detailed eagles, wood turtles and several kinds of salamanders. Most of those are located on the other side of Route 9A, said Phippard, where almost 90 acres will be put into conservation. About 22 acres of that parcel is home to the old leach field for Spofford Hall, originally designed to handle 20,000 gallons a day.
“It was state of the art at the time it was build in the 1990s,” said Phippard, who said an inspection by DES concluded the system is in perfect condition for the use of the five proposed lots.