Public Encouraged to Attend Meetings on School Access Road

HAMPSTEAD – School District Facilities Director Mike Hall brought the School Board up to date on a proposed emergency access road for the middle school and the status of work proposed for both the middle school and Central School.

At the board’s Tuesday, Aug. 27 meeting, Hall said the plan for the second access road is complete and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) has issued a Wetlands Permit to dredge and fill three locations amounting to 8,000 square feet for the road and culvert crossings. The road’s purpose is to provide improved emergency vehicle and personnel access to the school.

The contractor for the proposed roadway project, Farwell Engineering Services, has provided Hall with a cost figure of $267,122 for the completion of a two lane, paved access road between the school and Emerson Avenue. The contractor said the work can be done in six to eight weeks.
“All drawings and specifications are ready to be bid based on the two lane pavement roadway project,” Hall told the School Board.

The board asked about the Conservation Commission’s letter that raised concerns about disturbing wetlands and questioned the sightline of the exit onto Emerson Avenue. They noted that resident Thomas Lindquist had come before the board and raised abutter concerns about the proposed project as well. The board questioned whether there should be an open forum opportunity for residents, boards, commissions and abutters to discuss their concerns with the board.

Board member Greg Hoppa suggested that an invitation be issued to those parties to come to the School Board meeting and ask their questions. Board member Jason Cipriano noted that as the board was the decision-making body, he wondered why no one had come to the board with their issues already.
Hoppa also wanted clarification of how the project went from a single lane, gravel, gated, emergency access to a two lane, paved, multi-use roadway. The Safety Committee, Police Department and Fire Department are fine with a single lane, gravel, gated, emergency access. Hoppa said with the proposed road now described as a two lane paved roadway, it is no longer in the “emergency access” category, and asked for justification.

He was told that Road Agent Jon Worthen had said the single lane gravel access would be more costly to maintain than a paved roadway and that if one lane were to be paved, why not two.
Hall said the cost for the one lane, gravel, gated, emergency access would be about $100,000 but the difference in cost for the two lane paved roadway would be eaten up quickly by maintenance costs.

The evolution of the two lane paved roadway from the single lane gravel gated emergency access occurred at School District Facilities Committee meetings, he said. The board, however, expressed concern that the public needs to have an opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

Board Chairwoman Natalie Gallo said the public should attend the next Facilities Committee meeting, scheduled for Sept. 16. The board also decided the issue would go on the Sept. 24 School Board agenda and the public should sign up to comment. The board noted the public would also have the opportunity to comment at the Sept. 10 board meeting. The Sept. 24 board meeting will include a discussion about the secondary access issue.

The discussion then turned to whether the cost would be paid for from surplus, which ended at $786,100, or be placed on a warrant article to go before the voters. The board’s view is that if the road falls into the emergency access category, it should be paid out of surplus because the basic board approach to security improvements has been to do them regardless of cost. However, if this is a multi-purpose roadway, the board was leaning toward sending it to the warrant, although board member Jim Stewart reminded them that should voters turn it down, it could not be built for another year.

Board member Jaye Dimando reminded the board that it had taken a position that items over $25,000 should be presented as warrant articles and she didn’t think the board should change that arbitrarily.

The consensus was that an item of this magnitude should be a warrant article. The board also agreed to allow comment on the roadway issue at the Sept. 10 meeting but it would be an agenda item at the Sept. 24 meeting, and suggested inviting the road agency and Conservation Commission, as well as the police and fire chiefs.

The board then turned to the status of the Bread Loaf Corporation project for the Central and Middle schools. The Integrated Project Management Services proposal from Bread Loaf for Central School and Hampstead Middle School design and build services was to do both at the same time for a total cost of $284,750. The board approved the $284,750 to be paid from surplus late last spring.
Work between Bread Loaf and the board and the Facilities Committee began immediately and Hall said that it has been ramped up, with an engineering study and survey of existing conditions taking place, as well as preliminary meetings held with the Fire Department and Town Building Inspector Kris Emerson.

The Central School proposal for the pre-bond design and preconstruction covers the construction of a classroom addition to the school to accommodate students and services now held in trailers. The trailers would then be eliminated. In addition, the south wing wall and windows will be fixed to make them energy efficient and safe.

The middle school project covers the removal of asbestos from the library, reconfiguring the library to accommodate a learning common area, and reconfiguring the school entrance.
Hall said Bread Loaf is focusing on looking at floor plans. He said the timeframe to have everything completed, including the final cost estimate, is before the stipulated date for entering a warrant article for the March Town Meeting.

In other business, Hall told the board that during the summer, the district replaced the underground water storage tank at the middle school with a water system complete with filtration and water softening. When the new system was tested, they found well number one was not functioning as it should be.

Hall said the well pump motor and piping need to be replaced at an additional cost of $13,875 over the original estimate. He said the work was to be done over the coming weekend. The overage is covered by his existing budget.

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