July 15. 2013 9:17PM

Local Government Center: Epping academy damage not from quake

By Jason Schreiber
Union Leader Correspondent

EPPING — The town’s insurer likely won’t pay for the damage to historic Watson Academy that town officials believe was caused by a 4.0 earthquake that rattled New Hampshire and other New England states last October.

Town Administrator Gregory Dodge said an adjuster from the Local Government Center visited the building with an engineer and after reviewing the damage indicated that it would deny the town’s claim.

“They don’t think there’s any evidence whatsoever to support the theory that the earthquake caused that damage,” he told selectmen at a meeting last week.

LGC may consider helping the town pay for engineering to determine how the building could be fixed, but that’s about it, according to Dodge.

Selectman Tom Gauthier, board chairman, said the building has already been evaluated by engineers and that another engineering report wasn’t necessary.

“If what they’re willing to pay for is a third party opinion to come in and look at it, it seems like it would be a waste of time,” Gauthier said.

The 130-year-old town-owned building was used as a school many years ago but has since housed the recreation department and was used by other community groups.

It was closed in the days following the October earthquake after several cracks were found in the wood-frame building. Several support wooden beams also split in the basement and the bell tower appeared to be leaning.

Selectmen have expressed concern about investing a lot of money in the building, said they want to make it safe and useable again.

Selectman Jim McGeough said he didn’t want to “close the door” on discussions with LGC.

“I think it’s insulting for them to say, ‘We don’t want anything to do with it.’ I just think it’s wrong,” he said.

Selectmen agreed, saying they plan to gather figures on repair costs and then ask LGC to sit down with them.jschreiber@newstote.com