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Ladder truck, building renovations on Windham capital improvement projects

WINDHAM — Improvements to the historic Searles School and Chapel, new roofs at two schools and an $850,000 ladder truck top next year’s list of proposed Windham capital improvement projects.

The Windham Planning Board unanimously adopted the appropriations plan during its Oct. 16 meeting.

The Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is a financial plan used for charting the town and school district’s capital needs within a specified time frame. The most recent plan includes projects targeted for 2014 through 2021.

The nine-member CIP Committee began meeting in June to help determine Windham’s future needs.

In order to qualify as a CIP project, an item generally must be considered beyond the scope of the typical municipal or school district budget, according to CIP Committee Chairman Rob Gustafson.

Typical CIP expenditures include land acquisitions for public purpose, new buildings or additions, major facility renovations, road renovation and special studies or architectural plans necessary when charting the community’s future.

Projects are rated on a six-figure scale, with a Class I project deemed “urgent and can’t be delayed,” and a Class VI project deemed “inconsistent and contrary to land use planning or community development.”

The town of Windham has $1,164,600 in available CIP funding for 2014, with no fixed obligations next year, committee members confirmed this week.

Fire officials said the town’s current ladder truck was built in 1980 and has outlived its useful life span. A federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant, distributed through the Department of Homeland Security, would hopefully fund 95 percent of the $850,000 purchase.

“Given the age and maintenance costs required to keep it in service, we’re recommending a full replacement,” Fire Chief Thomas McPherson said, noting that the new vehicle would also be shorter in length than the older ladder truck, allowing for maneuvering in tighter spaces.

The Searles Historic Committee is seeking a $78,100 bond to continue renovations of the Range Road chapel.

According to Peter Griffin of the Searles Historic Committee, the building is the only site in town listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rentals of the Searles Chapel, the site of many public and private functions, earn the town up to $15,000 each year, Griffin said, but the aging building is in dire need of some interior renovations and exterior repairs.

New roofs are needed at both Windham Center School and Windham Middle School, with total costs estimated at $400,000.

School Board member Jerome Rekart said both schools’ roofs are currently in dire condition and were identified as “poor or worse” during a recent inspection.

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