The Planning Board held a public hearing for adoption of the 2016 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and approved and adopted the amended CIP to be reviewed by the Town Council, School Board and Budget Committee.
At its Oct. 12 meeting, the Planning Board heard from Geographic Information Systems manager and comprehensive planner Jon Vogl on the CIP, along with spokespersons for the various projects included in the plan.
The Planning Board discussed details of the communications infrastructure upgrade proposed for Police, Fire and Public Works as a Priority 1 project of the CIP.
Priority 1 projects are those that cannot be delayed and are needed immediately for health and life safety.
The proposed funding cost of the project has been changed to $4.2 million for FY 2018 as a bond article.
Fire Chief Darren O’Brien and Police Chief Bill Hart addressed the board and explained that coverage is weak in areas due to new construction and topography, as well as the current equipment’s age. The current system was funded through a grant shortly after the 9/11 attacks, making it 15 to 16 years old.
“What we’re concerned with now is just the coverage we’re receiving and the dead spots we have in town and not being able to communicate with our personnel,” O’Brien said.
Currently there have been issues communicating with officers using portable communication equipment in buildings, in the field and on highway patrol, and at times information for Public Works has had to be relayed from truck to truck.
Director of Public Works and Engineering Janusz Czyzowski expressed strong support for the project and agreed with Planning Board member Al Sypek that such coverage is critical in times of natural disasters.
The new digital system would allow for smooth coverage, estimated at about 95 percent, as all personnel would be using the same cell towers.
Another desired outcome is that the upgrades would enable the station to become a regional dispatch center. Doing so is expected to generate revenue from other towns and offset the cost of personnel and system maintenance.
O’Brien noted that Londonderry is currently dispatching for Hampstead and is in negotiations to begin dispatching for Pelham as well.
Sites for cell towers that have been considered include an area off Auburn Road and near the terminal at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, according to Fire Battalion Chief Michael McQuillen, who also addressed the board.
According to McQuillen, the cell towers would improve communication with and for surrounding towns also using digital communication. Such towns interested in the project include Derry, Auburn, Hudson and Litchfield.
Funding is set for FY2018, with construction beginning in FY2019.
There is still no site decision for the School District’s proposed new SAU (School Administrative Unit) building, according to School District Business Manager Peter Curro, but locations are currently being considered.
Construction managers consulted as well as the School Board’s own architect have not recommended that the current building be renovated due to its age. Another deterrent to expansion is the design of the current building, which does not allow for the addition of a second floor.
Twelve thousand square feet of additional space is needed to accommodate growth of the administration as well as the addition of confidential meeting rooms for parents to meet with the superintendent and/or special education staff.
The project remained at a Priority 2 status. Priority 2 projects are necessary within three years to maintain the basic level and quality of service.
Conservation Commission Chair Marge Badois presented conceptual plans for the Priority 3 Outdoor Recreation Enhancement project. The commission changed the price tag to $414,000 from the placeholder of $100,000 after having received the awaited information – engineering and recommendations from Stantec Consulting Corporation.
The project would involve enhancements to the Kendall Pond conservation area.
Four sites were originally chosen for enhancement: the Musquash, Kendall Pond, Scobie Pond and the Little Cohas Marsh area.
The commission ultimately chose to focus on Kendall Pond because it has the most diverse appeal, Badois said. The project includes trails that are wheelchair accessible as well as bicycle and stroller friendly.
The commission decided to concentrate on the single project as an example to the community of what a completed project would look like.
The Planning Board approved this project.
Priority 3 projects are considered to be desirable and needed within four to six years to improve the quality and level of services.
Other projects on the approved list are:
• Priority 1 – Central Fire Station renovation. The cost is $4,083,433, with $408,343 for architectural and engineering proposed for 2018 and construction at $3,675,090 slated for 2019. Central Fire Station was built in the 1970s.
• Priority 3 – School District Auditorium, $9 million, with proposed funding for 2019 of $900,000 for architectural and engineering and $8,100,000 for construction in 2020; New Elementary School, $24 million, with $2,400,000 in 2022 for architectural and engineering and $21,600,000 in 2023 for construction; Middle School Expansion, $3 million, with $300,000 for architectural and engineering in 2022 and construction in 2023 at $2,700,000; South Sewer, $3,631,050, $363,105 for architectural and engineering in 2022 with construction coming in 2023 at a cost of $3,267,945; North Sewer at $410,481, with $41,048 coming in 2022 for architectural and engineering and $369,433 coming in 2023 for actual construction; and Town Common Drainage, $225,000 for FY 2018, with completion in 2019 in 2019.