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Schools take priority in Londonderry CIP meeting

By RYAN LESSARD
Union Leader Correspondent

August 12. 2018 7:31PM




Moose Hill School in Londonderry (CHRIS GAROFOLO/Correspondent)

LONDONDERRY — During the first 2020-2025 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) meeting last week, school projects took the fore.

Four out of the six items discussed at the meeting were school-related projects and discussions focused mainly on those projects.

All told, the school projects would cost nearly $62 million. They include a new school facility, an auditorium, improvements to Moose Hill School and district-wide renovations.

During the meeting it was recommended that the Moose Hill School improvements, which are estimated to cost $10,860,000, would be slated for fiscal year 2021.

District-wide renovations ($15 million) were recommended for 2023, a new auditorium ($10 million) was recommended for 2024 and the new school facility ($25 million) was slated for 2025.

Many of the capital improvement projects for the school district are necessary to deal with current and projected enrollment issues, according to Peter Curro, the district’s business manager. There are currently two modular classrooms set up within the last month at Moose Hill School to deal with the high enrollment numbers.

Moose Hill School is currently used for kindergarten and LEAP programming. Curro said there are several options being reviewed that might rearrange how Moose Hill School is utilized. He also said redistricting is on the table.

The two non-school-related projects were slated for 2020. They include a new backup generator for the police station ($175,000) and drainage improvements at the town commons ($235,000).

Superintendent Scott Laliberte and school board member Steve Young were also at the meeting. Londonderry School board chair Jenn Ganem is appointed to the CIP Committee but did not attend the meeting. School board member Dan Lekas sat in her place.

During the discussions, Town Council chairman John Farrell expressed concerns that a 20-year bond for the total $61.86 million bill along with an estimated additional $5 million in annual operating costs for a new school would increase taxes by about $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

He said he would prefer to make up the difference in commercial revenue so the taxpayers don’t take on the burden.

“The problem is we’d need to get another F.W. Webb, for lack of a better way of putting it,” Farrell said during the meeting, referring to the 1-million-square-foot distribution facility in town.

After the meeting, Farrell clarified that the town would actually need close to five more facilities like F.W. Webb to make up the whole cost. The existing facility is assessed at $52 million and the town would need an additional $230 million in assessed value to offset the taxes needed to pay for the proposed CIP projects.

The recommendations will be presented before the Londonderry Planning Board during its meeting on Sept. 12, according to town planner Colleen Mailloux.

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