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Board OKs Londonderry district office move, will appear in school budget

By CHRIS GAROFOLO
Union Leader Correspondent

January 12. 2018 12:17AM
The Londonderry School Board this week agreed to include funding in the district's budget to relocate the SAU offices to 6A Kitty Hawk Landing. (CHRIS GAROFOLO/CORRESPONDENT)



LONDONDERRY — The Londonderry School Board this week agreed to add roughly $165,000 to the general operating budget to relocate the district’s headquarters to a new office building on 6A Kitty Hawk Landing.

The district requested a move from its current SAU location in the town office complex after employees said there were numerous air quality issues at the site.

By a 4-1 margin, the board agreed to include the funding in the 2018-2019 budget where, if supported by town voters, would pay $16.09 per square-foot per year. The base rate is $12.09 per square-foot, but an additional $4 per square foot is spread out interest-free over 10 years ($400,000) to cover the amortized fit-up cost. The property owner is responsible for about $300,000 of the fit-up construction.

The base cost for a 10-year lease is $123,015, with construction annually adding in $40,700 for a total price of approximately $163,715. In the school board’s motion, it was stated there is a 2 percent annual rent increase and the board can terminate the lease with eight months notice.

The district does view this as an intermediate term solution, but the most economical one at this time, said Londonderry Superintendent Scott Laliberte.

On Thursday, he said the next step is for the district’s legal team to meet with the attorneys for the property owner. The move still requires approval from voters during the school district’s deliberative session beginning at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9 in the high school cafeteria and Londonderry’s Town Meeting Day in March.

“First of all, it’s really the only space in town that’s available. Second, we got a very reasonable lease rate on it,” Laliberte said. “It’s not ideal, but we know we can’t stay here. Anything that we’re going to do for a renovation is going to be expensive and it’s going to be long-term.”

Three board members joined Laliberte earlier this month for a site visit of the Kitty Hawk Landing property.

The actual square footage is 10,175 square feet with the restrooms, working offices and shared lobby on an unfinished first floor where the district could create a customized layout. Direct employee office space is less than 6,000 sq. feet, according to the district plans.

The proposed base lease includes snow removal, groundskeeping, water and sewer utilities and general building repairs. The landlord also will keep the security deposit of $13,642 and would be responsible for all unamortized construction costs.

Board member Steve Young, who voted against the proposal and described himself as a frugal Yankee, said the most economical solution is a simple renovation and asked about renovating the HVAC system at the present location.

He suggested completing the renovation work during the summer and moving the central offices temporarily across the street to one of the other schools for a few months and at a lower cost to the district.

While the first-year costs for relocating to Kitty Hawk Landing are $163,715 annually, a rehabilitation project at the present office could cost an estimated $1.3 million, and that solves the air quality issue but not the growing space concerns, administrators say. Building onto the town office building or acquiring land for a new site also have seven-digit figures for Londonderry taxpayers, according to the administration.

Fellow board member Leitha Reilly said all her questions were answered after the site visit and the information provided by the administration.

Chairman Dan Lekas said he was concerned about the employees in the SAU office and was skeptical that the projected $1.3 million for renovations could skyrocket once the work begins.

“They have a problem right now, they’ve had a problem for a while. I think it’s important to solve that problem right now and not wait,” he said.

If voters reject the funding, then the school central office employees have to wait another year before potentially relocating from the SAU office, Lekas added.

The Kitty Hawk Landing facility is located off Grenier Field Road near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

The school district central headquarters, built in 1982 and incorporated into the town office complex on Mammoth Road, was only expected to support a dozen or so staff members. It now houses 24 employees and has high levels of particulates and irritants, as well excessive levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), as reported in November 2017.

It is in a separate building from the rest of the town offices and connects to the facility through the Moose Hill Council Chambers. No health problems have been reported in other areas of the town offices.


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