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Epping takes bids on repairing Watson Academy

EPPING — Repairing damage to historic Watson Academy will cost about $40,000, according to proposals submitted by local contractors.

The 130-year-old building on Academy Avenue has been closed since a 4.0 earthquake struck New Hampshire last October.

Two bids for the work to fix the building that once housed the town’s recreation department came in at $38,600 and $40,000.

The figures are much less than the $200,000 to $300,000 estimates suggested in a report by an engineering firm hired by the town to inspect the building shortly after the quake.
Selectmen are expected to discuss their options at a board meeting Monday night, Town Administrator Gregory Dodge said.

Town officials have insisted that the earthquake caused some structural damage to the aging building. Engineers who inspected the building concurred.
The recreation department and other groups used the building for community activities for many years but had to find a new home after town officials deemed the building unsafe when the damage was found in the days following the quake.
The repair work will include restoring the original floor alignment and excavating and reconstructing the footings on suitable material with proper drainage. Basement beams also appeared to have been deformed and may need to be reinforced with steel or engineered lumber.
Epping resident Charlie Goodspeed, a civil engineering professor at the University of New Hampshire, and contractor Chris Levesque recommended the repairs in a report submitted to the town after they reviewed the damage.
The town’s insurer, Local Government Center, has indicated that it may help the town in some way with the project. Representatives from LGC recently took a tour of the building.

Dodge said he hasn’t disclosed how LGC may help, but it will likely be discussed at Monday’s selectmen’s meeting.

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