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Claremont Prepares for Stevens Upgrade

Claremont — With just three months before the renovation of Stevens High School is expected to start, the School Board last night took several steps to begin the process in light of the short timeline.

Just a week after voters approved a $12.6 million bond for Steven, the board voted to hire Steve Horton, a construction consultant from Walpole, N.H., as the school district’s representative on the project and also voted to retain Banwell Architects. Lastly, it agreed to form a renovation committee that will include Horton, Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin, Business Manager Tim Ball, board members Heather Irish and Dave Putnam, who was appointed committee chairman by School Board Chairman Richard Seaman, and resident Andy Lafreniere.

Horton, who worked on the new middle school in Lebanon, told the board it has an “aggressive timeline so it needs all hands on deck.”

The board also discussed the authority of the renovation committee and the administration to make decisions without full board approval. Though it did not come to clear definition, Seaman noted that many decisions will need to be made on an expedited basis and can’t be delayed until the board meets every two weeks.

The 15-month construction schedule calls for work to begin this summer and be completed before school starts in 2014.

Horton agreed with the board’s decision to retain Banwell, which did all of the pre-vote drawings, because they will be able to have construction documents prepared for bidding in late May.

“Usually this is a six-to eight-month process,” Horton said. “You are trying to get it done in two months.”

Putnam noted that even before the vote, Ingrid Nichols, of Banwell, had begun interviewing engineers and architects for different aspects of the project.

“Retaining Banwell as the architect is huge,” Putnam said.

The board also agreed last night to have request for proposals for construction manager prepared by Banwell for three firms: Hutter Construction of New Ipswich, N.H., which provided construction estimates before the vote and also built the new community center, Trumbull Nelson of Hanover and Harvey Construction of Bedford, N.H.

“Clearly, Hutter did a superb job estimating the work but it was never the intent for the pre-bond work to roll into post bond,” Seaman said.

Lafreniere said after the meeting a website would be maintained to keep residents informed on the renovation work. The committee meetings will be aired on CCTV.

On March 12, residents voted 1,399-780 in favor of the renovations. The bond received 64 percent or 91 votes more than the required 60 percent.

The SAU is looking for one other member of the public to serve on the renovation committee, which will meet on Fridays at 4 p.m. at the Sugar River Valley Technical Center. Anyone interested in serving should contact the SAU office.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.