, Derry, New Hampshire

September 12, 2013

Planning Board hears more details on CIP hopes

By Julie Huss

---- — LONDONDERRY — Many in town have a wish list of all the major projects that need to be done.

That is how a Capital Improvements Plan is often put in place, with major work being prioritized from the most urgent need down the list to something that could possibly be put off a few more years.

The Planning Board heard updated details about the CIP plans and what made the top of the list.

The CIP committee is an advisory group that hears the presentation 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, any 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.

“These are all projects we’ve seen in previous years,” Vogl said. “There are no new additions this year.”

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

One project remaining near the bottom of the list is a proposed $17 million auditorium at the high school. That is one project some say may never pass with voters at that price.

Board member Tom Freda said bonding a $17 million school auditorium for 20 years may cost an average homeowner with a $350,000 home about $90 more per year.

Mary Soares said she would gladly pay that to have an auditorium in town. The auditorium plan has been around for many years, she said, and the plan should be looked at again and updated.

Board member Maria Newman said it’s time for the town to start taking a chance and financing things that need to be done. With so many budget constraints in town the past several years, it might be time to get things going.

“I feel like we are starting to climb,” she said. “We just can’t keep putting off everything. We have big projects coming to town, it just needs to start getting done.”

Town Councilor John Farrell said there are many things the town has waited a long time to get done.

“These are things we have to start planning and thinking about,” he said.

Board Chairman Art Rugg said it will be up to the town departments and school district to give the presentations when budget season rolls around.

“Voters will have the eventual say,” he said.