Town Council Discusses School District Land Lease

By Stephen Hauser

On Jan. 13, the Londonderry Town Council discussed an Article concerning leasing land to the Londonderry School District for a term of 30-75 years and nominal rent.

The proposed land is adjacent to the town hall and would be used to build new School District offices.

The Londonderry School District is looking to move from their current location at Kitty Hawk Landing and build an office adjacent to the Town Hall. The project is expected to cost nearly five million dollars, and they need the approval of Londonderry voters to move forward.

Also in the Article, the Town would raise and appropriate $300,000 from the June 30 Unassigned Fund Balance. Specifically, this money would contribute to the school building expenses including landscaping and reconfiguring the Town Hall complex.

However, this moving forward depends on the School Board passing its Warrant Article, which it hasn’t done yet.

In fact, the Board asked Town Solicitor Michael Malaguti what would happen if the School Board didn’t cooperate on their end and have it on their Warrant.

Mr. Malaguti replied the Town council could “zero it out.”

“This is the frustration of the tax payer,” said resident Dan Bouchard. “I get one tax bill. It’s not for the Town or for the school. It’s one tax bill. I can’t pick and choose who I pay it to, but when I get that tax bill, I expect everybody to work together.”

“We’re trying,” Chairman John Farrell responded.

“For 40 years, you see the school and the town butt heads,” Bouchard added, “I hope this isn’t politics being played – a delay tactic to put this project to bed. I’d like to see the School Board pass it, so the people can vote on it.”

“I agree,” Farrell responded.

Bouchard concluded, “I just wish everyone would work together.”

Farrell said the attorneys have been talking and the Town has been waiting for a response from the School Board for several weeks.

Town Councilor Tom Dolan clarified, “We’ve been working on this for several years now, not just several weeks.”

“We’re trying to do a good thing,” said Farrell, “and bring the School District building back to the center of town.”

Farrell added that his read on the School Board was, “three nodding heads yes, and two nodding heads no. Yet we don’t have an opinion.”

Malaguti said his read was similar.

“If everything is a go,” Malaguti projected, “Then the School District moves their question to the Warrant and the bond passes, and then the Article passes. Then we will be able to come to terms on the lease.”

After the vote, the Chairman accepted the motion in the affirmative to recommend the Article.