Building community in Claremont
By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent | November 01. 2012 12:38AM
Hutter Construction workers were pouring concrete outside the main entrance of the building on Friday to create the heated sidewalk. Because the sidewalk can be heated via the tubing underneath the concrete, the city will save money and time by not having to shovel ice and snow, said Recreation Director Scott Hausler.
"Less maintenance, basically," Hausler said. "We want to be able to run efficiently too. Staffing is always a concern. But anything you can do in the construction phase to minimize staffing requirements in many ways, and this is one of them. . A lot of thought went into how to minimize the maintenance and this is how you do it."
The $9 million city project is named after Claremont Savings Bank, which donated a third of the project costs.
Donations, grants and a $5.3 city bond made up the remaining costs.
"It's an usual time to build a community center," said City Manager Guy A. Santagate. "But what made this doable for use is that we had $3 million. It's very unusual to have about 35 cents out of every dollar coming from donation."
Santagate added that the bond for the project does not affect the tax rate, since two other city bonds are sunsetting. The low interest rates and low construction costs created in the poor economy also made it an attractive time to move forward with the project, he said.
Hausler said the building is being built to LEED Silver certification standards, with a tight thermal envelope and a white roof, which will save the center heating and cooling costs.
"It's going to be a very tight building, with very efficient operations," Hausler said. "It's got the white roofing on it to reflect the sunlight to keep the building cooler during the summer. It's right up there with all the energy conservation methods that are in place today. So we're pretty excited about that."
Two hiking trails intersect behind the community center which is also across the street from the Sugar Valley Regional Tech Center and Claremont Middle School, both on South Street. Stevens High School is set diagonally to the community center down on Broad Street.
Monadnock Park and Arrowhead Lodge ski area are also within close walking distance to the new community center.
"I visualize closing off South Street (to vehicular traffic) eventually to create a campus-type atmosphere in the downtown area," Santagate said.
Part of the center includes a caterer's kitchen and hall for weddings or other functions.
The Goodwin Community Center currently offers a 50-person capacity function hall, the new center would be able to accommodate just over 200 people.
The new community center will replace the Goodwin Community Center, which has buildings built in the 1800s, 1950s and 1970s, all of which are outdated and in need of major renovations.
The community center will also have a game room, aerobics room, gym, elevated three-lane jogging track, and an eight-lane, 25-yard pool.
The community center will also function as a command center during emergencies, Hausler said.
"Right now, the command center is at city hall, but if there is a fire at city hall, that takes out the fire and police departments," he said.
A Homeland Security grant also funded a backup generator for the building for emergencies.
Fire Chief Richard Bergeron said the new community shelter would house up to 100 people during a crisis. The city has no such facility, since none of the city schools have backup generators, he said.
Membership fees for the community center are to be finalized during the city budget process this winter, the city officials said.
Hausler said he expects the center to draw people regionally.
Not only will the new community center attract people to the city, who would also patronize shops and restaurants in the city, the center makes Claremont more attractive to businesses considering moving into the city as well, Santagate said.
Hausler said all contributions to Claremont recreation will be remembered in the new community center.
"One thing that we're planning on doing is taking all the old plaques off the old Goodwin Center and recognizing the history and bringing it into the new building," Hausler said.
The main entrance inside the building would also honor other community members.
"There will also be a Claremont Hall of Fame for people that have done good things for the community," he said.
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Meghan Pierce may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.