School Board Gets Update on Auditorium Committee

The school district auditorium committee has been meeting with town and school district officials and has lined up site visits, as it continues its work on a proposal for a community auditorium.

Committee chairman Tony DeFrancesco presented an update on the auditorium project to the school board on Tuesday, April 15.

He had praise for School District Facilities Director Chuck Zappala for doing “a yeoman’s share of work among all his other duties that he’s tasked with on a daily basis.”

“Since you tasked me with $25,000 at the last meeting, I took that stewardship seriously,” DeFrancesco said. The money is for initial costs, with an additional $5,000 available should it be needed.

“We didn’t want to pay an architect for questions that we could get answered for free, so Chuck and I met with town officials, the police chief, fire chief, building inspectors, fire inspectors to get as much information as we could on the town side, and they were thrilled to be included in the project at such an early stage,” DeFrancesco said.

With those answers, DeFrancesco said he was confident to have the architect move forward.

“We also did a site visit to Bedford High School,” he said, noting that school’s auditorium is part of the school building itself. “That would be cumbersome for us. For all intents and purposes, ours will be more of a municipal building because it’s going to be used by all parts of the town. Not being connected to a school, it makes it much easier to do that.”

DeFrancesco said he would be visiting a 1,000-seat school auditorium in Keene as well.

He said he hopes to have a final report to the board Aug. 26. “At that point I’ll have quite a few members of the committee with me, so you can grill us all,” DeFrancesco said.

He noted the committee had retained architect Frank Marinace.

“After looking at the breakdown of costs and doing quite a bit of research on my own, I realized that Marinace is going to do a lot of work for us for free – for example, in this breakdown of $25,000, he has a scale model of what would be a proposed auditorium. The cost of that is $2,000, but after doing some research, the lowest number I could find for a scale model was $6,000, with the highest $11,000.”

Board member Dan Lekas asked if the meetings of the committee were open and public and DeFrancesco said they were, although they do not have a set schedule. “We go from meeting to meeting,” he said.

He added that an advisory committee was being formed and he had the names of several potential members. “One is a commercial painter, one is a representative of the service clubs in town, and folks like that,” DeFrancesco said.

DeFrancesco said he had been in contact with Stantec, the company that had worked with the last auditorium committee a few years ago, and it was forthcoming with information.

Board member Steve Young asked if the committee was charged by Stantec, and DeFrancesco said it was not.

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