DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

October 24, 2013

School, town projects take CIP priority

Town priorities include school and fire station renovations

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — LONDONDERRY — The high school won’t be seeing a new auditorium anytime soon.

That’s because the plan doesn’t rate quite high enough on the town’s capital improvement priority list right now.

The Planning Board heard more details about what projects did get favorable marks on the town and school capital improvement, or CIP, lists for high-cost projects, including major school paving renovations and fire station repairs.

The CIP committee is an advisory group that hears presentations from the town’s departments, then makes recommendations based on a rating system to prioritize the jobs and what might be done first.

Projects heard this time around received scores based on urgency, need, public safety concerns and tax savings to the town. They are given a fiscal year for planned completion of the project.

“We received 14 applications for projects,” town planner John Vogl said. “We moved six to the urgency category at Priority 1; others were scored by criteria that identified their urgency and need for the town.”

The six top projects for CIP consideration are a $5 million renovation project for the school district; $2.9 million to renovate and upgrade the David A. Hicks Memorial Central Fire Station; a $125,000 recycling drop-off center project; senior center improvements at a cost of $725,000; and two public works projects.

Other projects farther down on the list include Pettengill Road upgrades, a new SAU building for the school district and Mammoth Road sewer replacement work.

Many of the projects would be bonded and would require voter approval at Town Meeting.

The $5 million school renovation bond failed to pass with voters last time.

The school district may get its new SAU office sooner rather than later. It remains on the list for CIP consideration in the next several years.

School business administrator Peter Curro said it’s time for a new space.

Right now, the SAU offices are located at the town office/police department complex, but are falling into disrepair.

A new building could cost $3.1 million. There are several potential properties eyed for a new building, including a parcel adjacent to Moose Hill School and another lot off Mammoth Road. A third option would be to construct a new facility at the present location.

Putting money into the current structure would not be a good option, Curro said.

“It’s outdated, built in the late ‘70s, with two or three add-ons,” Curro said. “We were told by architects that any sizable money put into that structure is a total waste of money. We call it the ‘clam shack’ next door.”

There is also no state aid available to help pay for a new SAU space, Curro said.

As for the auditorium, it won’t happen anytime soon, Curro said.

The proposed $17 million plan could bring a 950-seat space to the high school. It would be used mostly for school and community events. It would be too small to handle graduations, but would serve the school and add to its value, especially when accreditation time rolls around.

When accreditation teams comes to Londonderry, it’s always the lack of a performance space that makes the deficiency list.

“It’s a ‘black eye’ on the evaluation at the school,” Curro said. “(The school) gets rave reviews for everything else. You are looking at a Class L school without an auditorium.”