Senior Center Expansion Not Seen as Immediate Capital Improvement

The only projects designated an urgent priority in the 2016 to 2021 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) will have no effect on the Town’s tax rate, Director of Public Works and Engineering Janusz Czyzowski told the Planning Board last week.

Money in the sewer fund will cover the cost of replacing the Plaza 28 pump station and im-provements at the Drop Off Center.

If completing the projects will not cause a tax increase, member Al Sypek asked, “Why let another year go by without the Senior Center improvements getting done?”

“The Senior Center is not an immediate need,” answered member Rick Brideau, who noted that project is classified a level two priority, needed within three years to maintain a basic level and quality of community services.

Previously classified a level one priority, the Senior Center expansion dropped down to a level two in the updated CIP because the roof has been mended and the remaining repairs no longer pose an imminent health or safety threat, which was the primary criteria for scoring the various projects included in the CIP, according to member Leitha Reilly, who also served on the CIP Committee.

Senior Affairs Director Catherine Blash said space at the Senior Center is limited and told the board a third bathroom, as well as a larger kitchen and an additional room for clinics hosted at the center would help with high demand for programming at the facility.

“Right now we have to stagger our programs because of the way the building is set up. We can’t hold too many programs simultaneously,” she said, noting she recently did a mailing of over 500 fliers to seniors in Londonderry and surrounding towns. “The senior population is growing and we would like to be able to accommodate them.”

Blash said the Bone Builders program has become so popular that they have had to turn away members looking to join because they don’t have the space to add the additional classes they would need to satisfy the program requirements.

While seniors from neighboring communities are welcome to participate in programming at the Senior Center – there is a $10 annual membership fee for any senior participating in senior center programming – about 97 percent of members live in Londonderry, according to Blash.

Also included in the CIP were Phases three and four of the Rail Trail, with Phase three designated a priority level two and Phase four a priority level three.

Rail Trail Chair Bob Rimol said the Londonderry Trailways group is hoping to complete Phase three of the Rail Trail next year and is in the process of applying for a grant that would pay for 80 percent of Phase four of the project.

Phase three will take the trail over a 1.4 mile stretch through a scenic part of Londonderry on Conservation land, ending on Route 28 near Seasons Lane, Rimol said.

“It’s not just people from Londonderry asking about this phase. People from Derry are wondering, too,” Rimol said. “This is a big phase and we need a warrant article for it. We know how to keep costs down and I had a talk with the engineering firm and they saw no major issues that would be expensive.”

Rimol also suggested it may be possible to tie the project into the Woodmont Commons development and Exit 4-A project for cost-savings.

Also included on the 2016-2021 CIP is the proposed “Community Auditorium.” The School Board approved sending to the March 2015 ballot a warrant article for architecture and engineering for the auditorium at a cost of $500,000, a level two priority (see story page 1). Other inclusions are a Sanitary Sewer Extension, South Londonderry Phase II, a level three priority; Sanitary Sewer Replacement on a section of Mammoth Road, a level two priority; Sanitary Sewer Extension, Mammoth Road North, a level four priority; and Central Fire Station renovations, a level two priority.

Reilly explained the Fire Station renovations were classified a level two priority because they may be deferred without posing a safety or health threat.

The proposed renovations at Central Station, which was built in the 1970s, include renovating existing apparatus bays and adding two additional bays; and renovating administrative and operations facilities including the communications room, training facility, fitness room, decontamination room, gear storage, restrooms, living space, first floor bunks rooms, office space, secured storage and operations/community training.

According to the CIP, the improvements are necessary to meet the needs of a department that has grown as the Town has seen a steady increase in call volume.

The CIP proposes funding the $3.1 million project for the Fire Department in Fiscal Year 2016-2017.

The Town Council and School Board will consider the CIP and decide if they want to send any of the projects to voters for a final decision on funding those improvements in the next fiscal year.

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