Planning Board Sets Capitol Improvement Priorities, Talk Future of Schools

At the Londonderry Planning Board meeting on Sept. 13, the board spoke in depth about the Capitol Improvement Plan (CIP) – specifically about the different projects proposed by the School Board.

There are eight projects that are part of the proposed CIP and the CIP Committee met a few weeks ago to discuss their priority statuses. According to Town Planner Colleen Mailloux, the projects were ranked in the following order:

Priority 1: Central Fire Station renovations which will cost roughly $4.3 million and are recommended to begin in fiscal year 2019 with construction in 2020.

Priority 1: Police, Fire, and Public Works infrastructure, which will replace current infrastructure and communication systems allowing the three departments to use the same technology for more reliable communication. This project will cost roughly $3.7 million and was recommended to begin in 2019.

Priority 1: Construction of a new SAU building which will cost around $3 million and was recommended to begin construction in 2020.

Priority 2: Construction of a new Elementary School which will cost around $26 million and is recommended to begin construction in 2023.

Priority 2: District-wide renovations to the schools encompassing renovations in the kindergarten, all elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school. This is estimated to cost $12 million and is set to begin planning in 2021, with execution beginning in 2022.

Priority 2: Phase 2 of sewer construction for South Londonderry, which is set to cost $3.8 million and begin construction in 2021.

Priority 3: Construction of an auditorium to be used by the school district and community, which is estimated to cost $10 million with planning beginning in 2020 and construction beginning in 2024.

Priority 3: Replacing a section of the sewer on Mammoth Road, which would cost $431,000 and would begin construction in 2023.

The departments gave overviews of their projects, but the majority of the time was taken by the School District projects, presented by Londonderry School District Business Administrator Peter Curro.

Curro began with explaining the new SAU office, which will replace the current one that was built in the early 1980s. According to Curro, the carbon dioxide levels are “off the charts” and there have been some documented respiratory illnesses as a result of the building.

Planning Board Vice Chair Mary Wind Soares wanted to clarify to the public how important both the fire station and the new SAU building are for when the projects are on the ballot next year: “We’re talking safety, it’s a number-one priority for these two buildings to be taken care of.”

Board Member Ann Chiampa asked if they are currently looking for a new space, but Board Member Leitha Reilly, who is also a member of the School Board, quickly said that they are “not at liberty to say right now.”

Curro explained that the only currently-existing empty space on school property would be an area at Moose Hill School. Moose Hill was originally designed to be converted into a middle school should the need arise, so the problem with putting the SAU building there, according to Curro, is that “you [the district] would lock yourselves out of any options to change it into an elementary or middle school.

This dissolved into discussion of growth in the district, which all of the other projects, with the exception of the district wide renovations, ride on the enrollment status for the schools.

Currently Moose Hill and the LEEP program have a “no vacancy sign,” and Curro said residents of Londonderry will probably see a twin-module classroom next year to account for the growth. While the elementary schools have some open spaces, these are likely to close due to the expansion of the town, particularly the new developments that are coming.

“Inside of five years LEEP may end up being the whole building” at Moose Hill, said Curro.

A question that needs to be answered in the future, according to Curro, is what the town wants to do with kindergarten – either expand it to a full day program or keep it the way it is, possibly moving it to one of the elementary schools.

Next month, on Oct. 11, there will be a public hearing on the draft of the CIP, where the Planning Board will take into account the public’s opinion and possibly make adjustments to the draft before finalization.

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