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Second study of Epping's Watson Academy could cost $20,000

Union Leader Correspondent

December 08. 2013 7:28PM

EPPING — The town paid nearly $10,000 for an engineering report on Watson Academy after an earthquake shook the historic building last year, but now selectmen are weighing proposals for a more thorough study that could cost another $20,000 or more.

Selectmen have received two bids to conduct a structural analysis of the building and prepare plans for repairing the damage.

SFC Engineering Partnership of Auburn submitted a bid of $21,000 while MSJ Engineering of Newmarket bid $25,000 for the work.

The town paid SFC Engineering close to $10,000 to inspect the building and prepared a report after the magnitude 4.0 quake on Oct. 16, 2012, but town officials decided they needed a more extensive engineering study and an engineer’s stamp before moving forward with any repairs.

The building constructed in 1883 has been closed since structural damage was discovered after the earthquake. The closure forced the town’s recreation department and other clubs that use the building to relocate.

In its report issued after inspecting the building last year, SFC estimated that it would likely cost between $207,000 and $303,000 to make all of the necessary repairs.

A building committee working on the project had other engineers inspect the building and they insisted that the repairs could be done for much less than what SFC Engineering originally proposed.

Among other things, the committee’s engineers concluded that the original floor alignment would need to be restored and basement beams may need to be reinforced with steel or engineered lumber.

Selectmen are expected to discuss the two bid proposals at Monday night’s board meeting.

Selectman Karen Falcone said the board could decide to award the bids now or wait and place the engineering study on the town warrant for voters to decide in March.

If selectmen went ahead with the study now, Falcone said there would still be enough time to get the study finished and the plans drawn up in time for selectmen to put an article for making repairs on the warrant in time for a March vote.

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