Citing perceived immediate need, many major planned town projects were deemed high priorities by the town’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) Committee, a move that could clear the way for many previously postponed endeavors to be completed.
“Some of this stuff we have been putting off for years,” said committee chair John Farrell. “Let’s put it in the budget and get the conversation going.” At its Aug. 12 meeting, Londonderry’s CIP committee, an advisory group to the Planning Board, scored numerous proposed building projects from a number of town departments, recommending a priority score and fiscal year for completion.
Half of the project proposals heard were given top priority, meaning the committee deemed them urgent and recommends that they be completed within the next two fiscal years. Such projects included school renovations, Central Fire Station expansion, town garage improvements, Recovery Way drop-off center paving, Plaza 28 sewer pump station replacement, and expansion of the town’s Senior Center. School renovations were recommended for FY 14, while the other projects were suggested for FY 15.
Central Fire Station expansion would include additional space for apparatus, training, administration, maintenance, and offices. The plans also include expanded living space and a fitness facility.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $2,972,325, which would be bond funded.
Chief Darren O’Brien and Division Chief of Fire Prevention Brian Johnson appeared before the committee to present the plans and discuss why the current space is inadequate.
“We are having problems with it,” O’Brien said. “We make do with what we have. We’re utilizing every possible space we can. Is it sufficient? No. But we make it sufficient.”
O’Brien, who was appointed fire chief earlier this month, explained the problems he sees with the current facility. He said that it lacks adequate space to store all equipment, is not Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, and has proven costly to repair. Repair costs have topped $23,000 from maintenance trust funds and another $13,000 from the operating budget.
Renovations to the town’s schools could include roofing, paving, and boiler replacement. Projects would be funded through a $5 million bond. In the past, the school district has funded such large-scale maintenance projects through the Maintenance Trust Fund, which has received $500,000 in annual appropriations. However, district officials fear that the appropriations cannot keep pace with increased costs, particularly petroleum-based products.
“If we don’t do it, we start looking at what areas, specifically the Middle School, we would start moving kids around,” School Administrative Unit (SAU) Business Administrator Peter Curro said. “The main urgency is not paving. It’s the roofing.”
Town garage improvements are estimated to take three years and are proposed to be completed over three phases. The first phase would be building a shed to house road salt and sand, Phase II would include reconstructing the driveway and installing a drainage system, and the final phase could consist of an addition that would include office space, a lunchroom, and a bathroom.
Each phase would cost $230,000, $50,000, and $260,000 respectively. In a report presented to the CIP, Director of Public Works and Engineering Janusz Czyzowski explained the need for the improvements. He noted that the new shed would allow the salt/sand mixture to be prepared and stored in advance.
The existing facility was constructed in 1971, and improvements to the structure were first brought before the CIP in 1986, according to Czyzowski. “I was hoping that before I retire we would have a facility where the guys could wash themselves and eat a sandwich in better than what we have now,” said Czyzowski.
Improvements to the drop-off center would include an awning at the transaction area of the office trailer, concrete slabs for additional material containers, and paving.
The awning is expected to keep paperwork dry, and particularly to shelter customers and attendants while conducting transactions. Concrete slabs are expected to accommodate additional recycling areas, and asphalt paving should improve site maintenance and lower operational costs. Total costs are expected to be $125,000.
“It’s a small amount of money and we have the money available,” Czyzowski said. Replacement of the existing Plaza 28 pump station is expected to cost $3,150,000. In a report submitted to the CIP, Czyzowski pointed out that existing equipment cannot accommodate the expected peak yearly sewage flow. The current capacity is 1,200 gallons per minute, whereas the projected yearly peak flow is 2,025 to 2,705 gallons per minute. Czyzowski suggested the town may have to purchase land to build a new station.
“It would be difficult, if not impossible, to upgrade the existing facility to accommodate this flow,” Czyzowski wrote. Plans for the Senior Center include new bathrooms, improvements to the roof, and additional space. Improvements are needed in order to better accommodate the town’s growing senior population and to address structural issues with the current building.
In a report to the CIP, the town’s Senior Affairs Department said the roof cannot handle heavy snow loads, and the building is inadequate for gatherings of more than 50 people. The department said that in some cases, over 100 people attend Senior Center functions. The report also stated that the current bathrooms cannot accommodate seniors with mobility issues or who need caregivers.
The report pointed out that when the Senior Center opened in 2003, average attendance was 20 per day. Nowadays, average attendance is 45 per day. CIP Committee member Mary Wing Soares agreed that such improvements are needed. “We have an increasing senior population,” she said. “We need to be providing adequately for them.”
The total project cost is estimated to be $725,000. Farrell suggested that the Senior Affairs Department seek grant funding for its operations. Other projects discussed were a new SAU office (Priority Score 2, recommended for FY 16), an auditorium (Priority 3, FY 18), Pettengill Road upgrades (Priority 2, FY 15), South Londonderry sewer upgrades (Priority 3, FY 16), Mammoth Road sewer replacement (Priority 2, FY 16), and the Mammoth Road (north) sewer extension (Priority 4, FY 16).