By Kaitlin Bedell
School Board member Bob Slater came before the Town Council during their meeting on Monday night, June 21 to propose changing the location of the town’s district offices in Londonderry.
Slater said that over the last few months he has met with the Town Manager to discuss different options for the offices.
The offices were moved to Kitty Hawk Landing almost four years ago and currently undergo a one-year lease period, which extends for 10-years.
Slater said he asked the School Board what their thoughts on moving the offices would be and the overall consensus was that they agreed.
Prior to moving, the offices use to be in the center of town near all of the schools. Now, they are located near the airport and are not under the town’s control.
According to Slater, the district can opt out of resigning the one-year lease with an eight-months’ notice and would be obligated to about $40,000 a year. If the district stayed where they are, they would owe about $200,000 in five years to continue to lease the property.
Slater said this means that for each year the district gets out of this building, it will be a “net gain” for both the town and taxpayers.
“Looking at all the other cost of property today, it would be nice to get the district under a town owned property where we’re paying $130,000-$140,000 a year in a lease towards the purchase of a bond and in 20-years it’s ours,” Slater said.
Slater said the new location would be a two-story building with about 9,000 square feet reserved for the district offices.
“With the assistance of our town manager we weighed the pros and cons of a raw piece of land compared to a piece of land that has all the utilities and infrastructure,” Slater said.
The Town Manager had also been looking for some open space for offices and storage.
Within the past year, the Town manager had discussed his want for more space, but because of the expenses included with this the conversation had been temporarily tabled. Slater suggested that combining the two would be more cost efficient.
He also stated that the property that makes the most sense was where the school district office was previous to their currnt location. That property, next door to the Town Hall was torn down two years ago.
Slater said his purpose of coming to the Town Council was to see what members thoughts were and if they had any concerns with the proposed plan.
“I think it makes a lot of sense and I really appreciate you doing all that homework because numbers don’t lie,” Councilor Joe Green responded.
Councilor Tom Dolan said that he also thought it was a great idea but wanted to ensure that it would not negatively impact taxpayers.
Councilor Deb Paul asked if Slater had a timeline for when the project would begin.
Slater said that if they get the ball moving soon, he is hoping to have the proposal on the ballot for the March town elections.
In the meantime, Slater said he will formally present the project to the School Board at their June 22 meeting and do a facility study for the proposal the following day before coming back to the Town Council.
“I’m hoping for the support,” Slater said. “I think it’s a win/win for the community and to get our district offices into a place they can call home.”