CONCORD — Spending nearly $79,000 for a door in a State House hearing room during the current budget crunch raised a few eyebrows during Wednesday’s Governor and Executive Council meeting.
Article 112 authorized a total of $78,849 for a door in State House Room 100.
It appeared to be a very expensive project, even for a double door with transom. But Michael Connor, deputy commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, explained that the contract isn’t for a replacement door, but for an additional door.
“It’s really a safety concern,” said Connor, because the room is often filled with people, especially during budget sessions. The second door will make it easier to empty the room quickly.
Adding the door isn’t a simple matter, Connor said, because it will require cutting through the original State House masonry wall. That will require shoring up the structure before opening the wall, then installing a permanent structural steel support and finishing the job with materials appropriate to the existing finishes in the room.
The new wood door will also have a panic bar, which will mean the room meets life-safety recommendations.
The Executive Council approved the door and all other items on the agenda, including, without comment, a $1.2 million interest payment to a former Windham landowner who was awarded $13.5 million by a Rockingham County Superior Court jury in December for a parcel taken by eminent domain for the Interstate 93 expansion project.
The state had offered John Wolters $3.97 million for three parcels totaling 62 acres near Exit 3, between the northbound and southbound lanes. Wolters’ lawyer contended the state’s offer did not reflect the land’s development potential. The council had already approved payment of the $13.5 million.
The council also approved a $9,999 agreement with Pepperell Cove Marine Services Inc. of Portsmouth for an emergency underwater inspection of a broken, leaking and inoperable gate at the Mendums Pond Dam in Nottingham and Barrington. The lake created by the dam is a recreation area for the state and the University of New Hampshire.
The dam is classified as a high hazard because its failure would inundate 36 houses, two state road crossings and 23 town road crossings and overflow a downstream dam, causing it to fail and likely resulting in fatalities.
Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack explained the wooden gate began to break apart when it was operated in May, and cannot be used as is to control the release of water from the lake during a flood.
Burack reassured Councilor Chris Pappas that the dam is not at immediate risk of failure.