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Highway garage at top of to-do list

December 09, 2009
SANBORNTON — Sanbornton's Highway Garage is in need of major repairs, and Department of Public Works Director John Thayer met with selectmen last week as they consider what should be done about the facility.

Among many other issues, DPW employees have had a difficult time fitting some equipment into the building, and there is considerable heat loss with the doors currently installed.

Selectman Dave Nickerson said a recent engineering assessment of the building found it in "really bad shape" and does not recommend replacing the bay doors on the building with new 16-foot doors as originally considered by the board.

"They don't recommend the new doors and insulating the building is a waste of money. We have all of this new equipment and no place to put it or work on them. The Highway Garage is important. We need a place for these guys to take care of what we've got," he told fellow selectmen Andrew Livernois and Steve Ober.

He also commented that conditions inside the garage create a poor work environment for the employees.

Thayer had begun researching other DPW garages that were recently built and presented the board with photos of some. One such building in Derry cost $837,000 and was a 102x175 steel structure. Thayer felt there were ways for Sanbornton to save money in constructing a similar building that would suit the town's specific needs.

"I could get plans from others for you to look at. Once you say 'I like it' then we can bring in an engineer for the hard plans and cost estimates," he said.

He also felt his department could save money by doing some of the work themselves.

Selectmen noted that the Capitol Improvements Program had moved the garage to the top of their list of projects under consideration. Livernois asked Thayer to begin work on a conceptual design for a garage that would include whether it would be wood or steel, dimensions, how many work bays and how much office space it would include. Once a design was agreed upon, a warrant could be presented at Town Meeting, where a bond would most likely be recommended to complete the project.

Nickerson cautioned Thayer to come up with plans that would accommodate the future of Sanbornton.

"Don't make the mistake we made 20 years ago and make it too small. This town is going to grow and more equipment in the future will most likely be needed," he said.

He cited plans for new housing complexes, possible new roads and upgrades to existing roads that could eventually call for more equipment to maintain the additional development in the town.

Selectmen then requested Thayer to consider what type of standards Sanbornton should create for its town roads. While they did not necessarily think state standards would fit their scenic and historic country roadways, an "almost complete" engineering of town roads would allow Sanbornton to take advantage of any future stimulus funds for road projects.

"We want to decide things like drainage, six-inch or eight-inch gravel base, etc.," Nickerson said.

Having this information available would give Sanbornton more shovel-ready projects that might qualify for federal money should more be allotted for road improvements, said Town Administrator Bob Velosky.

Thayer said that each road was individual in its requirements but that he would begin looking at them and developing standards that could be placed on file.

Acknowledging that Thayer has taken on a lot of extra administrative work for DPW to save money and make necessary improvements, selectmen thanked him again for doing what they called a "terrific job." Nickerson commented on how busy he has found Thayer whenever he has stopped by the Highway Garage and yet he is still always willing to take on more work.

The three selectmen agreed that in the coming year or two the town may have to consider moving others up in their positions within DPW to give Thayer an assistant. The transfer station is now overseen by the DPW director and he sits on several committees and boards in the town.

Work in areas like the Burleigh Hill, Grey Road, Lower Bay Road, Perley Hill Road, Hunkins Pond and paving projects in places like the library and Old Town Hall have also been made possible in part by Thayer's efforts in improving roads and services. Selectmen said the job is requiring him to be in the office more than ever and an assistant would be beneficial in freeing up some of his time for work on similar projects.

Littleton Chmber
Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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