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Concord city council reviews upcoming projects

Concord officials should consider long-term goals and maintenance plans for city buildings, city councilors said last night at a workshop on the capital improvement program.

Some councilors raised concern about care for city properties as they reviewed future projects, such as building a new community center on the Heights.

The council agreed the city will likely sell the East Concord Community Center and the old Heights Community Center buildings as the new center is constructed at the former Dame School in 2015. The city plans to keep the Green Street Community Center and the West Street Ward House.

Councilor Dan St. Hilaire asked city officials to make a plan for the city’s campus on Green Street, including City Hall, the police station, the library and land on Prince Street purchased last year. City Manager Tom Aspell said the task would require an outside consultant.

“This is probably a good point of having a committee or looking at what the public properties are and the purposing of it going forward and having a master plan,” Councilor Mark Coen said.

Councilors also asked city officials to develop a plan for their parking garages. Repairs to the Durgin Block garage will require $1.9 million in addition to the $1.4 million spent this year in repairs, said Assistant for Special Projects Matt Walsh. He said the garage was not cared for after it was built.

Parking Manager Dave Florence said there is not a plan to maintain garages and police Chief John Duval, who oversees the parking department, said he is working on it.

“Councilor (Allen) Bennett brought this issue up a year ago about ongoing maintenance,” Councilor Fred Keach said. “I’m just concerned that a year later that there’s not a maintenance plan in effect.”

Councilor Jan McClure presented a letter last night from the Concord Public Library Trustees and asked the council to adjust its plans for a new library, but did not receive support from other councilors. The capital budget includes $2.5 million in fiscal year 2022; McClure asked to move the funding to 2015.

Among the projects discussed last night:

∎ Replacing the Sewalls Falls Bridge will cost $10 million in the next fiscal year, Walsh said. That amount was reduced from $13.6 million after the council voted last week to replace the bridge. The city will pay $2 million of the total cost, with the rest covered by grants.

∎ Development of the former Allied Leather Tannery site will cost about $2 million in 2014, to relocate the Penacook branch library and build a riverfront park.

∎ Improvements to Memorial Field will be re-prioritized this spring, Walsh said.

∎ Spending $600,000 would replace breathing equipment for firefighters in 2015. Fire Chief Dan Andrus said he’s worried one of the existing devices could fail.

The council did not make any formal changes to the capital improvement plans last night. They will hold a public hearing about it in April.

“There seems to be several very big ticket items, which are going to be coming to us soon and we’ll have some decisions to make,” said Mayor Jim Bouley.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or
lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

This article has been updated to correct the name of the group that sent a letter to the city council about funding for a new library.

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