By Chris Paul
The sub-committee put together by the Londonderry School Board charged with exploring options for a new school district office met for the first time on Monday night, Aug. 30, and the main focus was centered around plans for building something near the center of town.
Members of the committee include, Bob Slater, from the School Board, Peter Curro, the School District Business Administrator, Tim Siekmann, from the Budget Committee, Jake Butler, from the Planning Board, Allen Miller, the facilities Director of the school district and Tony DeFrancesco a volunteer.
Also attending the meeting was Marc Lehoullier who is a project manager for the Trident Group out of Salem.
Slater began the meeting by reminding the group what the hoped to accomplish over the next few months. He explained that he brought Lehoullier in to help with figuring out how much a new two-story office building adjacent to the Town Hall would cost the town. He hoped that would happen by December of this year.
DeFrancesco gave a short history on how the committee came about. He explained that Slater had proposed the idea to the school board a number of months ago to get the district out of the rental space on Kitty Hawke Landing and back into the space it use to be in. This committee was formed for that purpose.
Curro reminded the group that the school district “has to leave Kitty Hawk, so there’s no if it works or doesn’t work,” on the plan. “Unless the price is like $20 million.” He was hoping the price would be closer to two and a half million dollars.
DeFrancesco added that to that point, there were many cost savings with having the office rebuilt at its old site. There would be no need to buy land or build a parking lot and water lines already exist there.
He added, “This is probably the cheapest place to do it and it would cost less than what they’re paying currently.”
Lehoullier spoke to the group and stated that the biggest obstacle at this point is time. He felt the process was getting a late start if they wanted to get it on the March ballot. He said the Trident Group is prepared to send out a RFP to a select group of builders.
At that point Curro mentioned to Lehoullier that the floor plan the district currently is using works great and that plan could easily be used for whatever plan is developed. He hoped that would help defray the design costs and save time.
Lehoullier felt that the group would have to make a choice for the construction manager/design firm by Oct. 1 in order to move forward with a warrant article.
He hoped to have three companies responding to the RFP, but noted that because of the tight timeline there would be fewer interested.
Lehoullier added that he didn’t feel he would have a cost for the project until after the first of the year.
Curro mentioned that the number would have to be close to ready for a bond hearing on Jan. 13, 2022. He added that at that point the cost could be an approximate number, but by Feb. 11, it would have to be a final number.
Even with the short timeline, DeFrancesco thought that the town should move forward with the plan, saying that bond rates are very low and if the total cost is $2.5 million there’s no better time to do it.
Slater added that there is about $210,000 a year being paid for the Kitty Hawk building and it would be better if that money was going back to the town in property taxes.
The meeting ended with Lehoullier telling the committee that he would be sending the RFP out by the end of the week or the beginning of the following week and hopes to get three solid bids.