November 21, 2011ALTON — A forum on the proposed renovations to Alton Central School was held at ACS on Thursday, Nov. 17.
With more than 20 people in attendance, participants in the forum were encouraged to ask questions to Chip Krause, the architect who designed the plans for the proposed renovation.
Krause explained the project and pointed out the major additions that would be added to the building: the re-grading of all of the fields, the addition of the gym, the replacement of the entire HVAC system at ACS the two-story addition on top of part of the existing building and the addition of a geo-thermal heat field.
Many question were asked about the geothermal field and Krause explained that the cost of adding the heat field could be recouped in eight to 14 years, depending on how much the price of oil goes up.
Krause talked about the geothermal field at Kingswood, which was recently installed, and he claimed that they are running at 35 to 45 percent of their normal energy cost due to the installation of the geothermal heat field.
A question was asked about where this type of process has been successful and Superintendent Kathy Holt pointed to schools in Massachusetts and a Goffstown hardware store as successful examples.
Krause explained that the current gym would be converted into a multi-function facility and a new cafeteria.
This would allow the school to trim the lunch periods down from four to three a day.
Krause explained that daylight harvesting would be used, which allows natural sunlight to provide light to some of the new classroom space.
Krause explained that the project would be completed in phases, but he said that he hasn't worked out the details of phasing the project yet.
Holt pointed to the fact that the current bond rate is as low as it's going to get.
Peter Bolster, who is a member of the Alton Board of Selectmen and a State Representative, talked about a house bill that is attempting to reintroduce state funding for building aid on schools.
However, he cautioned that monies may not be available for many years.
Holt explained that she attended a legislative session on the topic and was told that building aid would be handed out using several criteria; emergency need, the safety of the building and economic need, which would put Alton pretty low on the totem pole.
She worked together with Krause and they only found about $110,000 that could be applied towards building aid, and the state would only provide 30 percent of that total.
She questioned waiting a couple of years for building aid that may or not be there.
Marilyn Dame, the chair of the Buildings and Grounds Committee, explained that the process of renovating or building a new school has been a long process. She claimed that the committee looked at 22 different pieces of land for a new school, and several votes have been held in the past, and they have all been turned down.
A suggestion was brought forward to build a new school on the current fields and then tear down the current school and build new fields there.
Dame said the committee has looked into all kinds of options, and she thinks this a good option.
Krause believes if the town waits two or three years, the construction costs is bound to go up.
At no time during the forum was the estimated cost of the project discussed.
The estimated cost of the project, which varies due to cost per square foot of renovated building space and new building space, wasn't discussed in detail during the forum.
The estimated cost for the renovation is between $21,085,805 and $26,266,337.
The committee is scheduled to meet next on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. at the Alton Central School library.
The above meeting was video recorded and is presently showing on LRPA-TV's Cable Channel 25; consult Channel 24 at the top of the hour or visit www.lrpa.org and click on "Schedule" for program times. There is also a DVD available for loan at the Gilman Library, courtesy of Bob and MaryBee Longabaugh.
Tim Croes can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126