Stevens High Saves Money On Renovation

Handicap Accessible Entrances Cost Less Than Anticipated

Claremont — The Stevens High School Renovation Committee received some good news yesterday on the design from the architect.

Ingrid Nichols of Banwell Architects told the committee that the building inspector and state fire marshal concluded that the construction work on two entrances of the school to make them handicap accessible is considered modifications, not additions.

Nichols said if they were additions then the new international building codes would have applied and that would have meant changes in the design throughout the building, including construction of a firewall.

“The existing IBC are far less stringent,” she said, while also emphasizing that there are numerous fire and safety code upgrades being made. These include fire rated doors, an upgrade to the sprinkler and alarm systems and fire rated materials in the stairwells.

“This saves us about two months time and a lot of money,” committee chairman Dave Putnam said.

He credited Nichols for giving a thorough explanation to the fire marshal and building inspector of the fire code upgrades being done in the school to show “we are doing everything right to improve student safety.”

Nichols estimated the cost to meeting the current IBC would have been about $500,000 to $600,000 and another two months for design.

The committee also was told that they expect to have proposals from three potential buyers next week on financing the $5 million project for energy saving upgrades at Stevens and other district schools that voters approved in March.

“Hopefully we will have an offer we can say yes, this will work,” SAU 6 Business Manager Tim Ball said.

Only three institutions responded to the district’s request for proposal but none of those were a fit for the district.

Ball said the three institutions they are working with now will provide the required 20 year loan.

Monadnock Economic Development Corp of Keene, Oppenheimer and Sustainable Energy, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. with a presence in New England are considering the district’s loan request.

Johnson Controls is guaranteeing that the annual energy savings will be enough to cover the loan payments under the lease/purchase agreement, thus there is no tax rate impact.

Even though a contract has not been signed with Johnson, Putnam said the company has been providing design information to Banwell so they can continue with that aspect of the work.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at