Merrimack school officials still mulling what to do with Brentwood Drive property
By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON Union Leader Correspondent
MERRIMACK — The fate of the building that once housed the Nashua Program at Brentwood is still up in the air as school officials must decide what to do with the newly acquired property.
“I am not so sure, in its present state, it is going to meet much need,” Gage Perry of the district’s planning and building committee told the school board last week. “Certainly the infrastructure is going to be challenging, at best.”
Earlier this year, voters approved the $275,000 purchase of the building at 1 Brentwood Drive within the Merrimack School District’s high school campus; the building was previously used by the Nashua Program at Brentwood, an alternative high school for Nashua students.
“It is going to be a challenge to make it useable for anything large, or certainly for any real infrastructure. We have got some work to do,” Perry said of the building.
Andy Schneider, school board member, suggested that the committee seriously explore the possibility of using the structure or the property for school administrative offices or for the district’s special education department.
The board, administrators and committee should look at all options for the property to determine what makes sense, said Scheider, adding that process could take some time.
Rather than rushing that task, he recommended that the board aim to have a strong plan in place to present to voters in April 2020. In the meantime, Schneider said there are likely other temporary uses for the building throughout the next two years.
The functioning building currently includes classrooms, a kitchen, mini-gym and more.
Superintendent Marge Chiafery said the possibility of an entire reconfiguration of the existing administrative offices, special education offices and the newly owned property should be considered, as well as the parking situation in the front of the adjoining high school.
“The whole area needs to be looked at so it is well thought out,” said Chiafery.
Shannon Barnes, school board chairman, said the new property is an ideal site for the school district to own since it sits in the center of the high school campus, adding it was a good investment for the community at $275,000; she noted that the property was valued at $1.1 million.
A full needs assessment and facilities assessment should be conducted, said Barnes, adding only then can a plan be brought forward to voters.
Cinda Guagliumi, school board member, suggested that perhaps in the short-term, adult education classes or district meetings could be held at the new building, as well as after-school tutoring sessions.
Others suggested that the mini-gym could be used by different organizations, especially in the spring when the fields are in high demand.
Chiafery said she will approach the district’s leadership team to form some ideas on how to use the space.