Vision for new Allenstown school revealed, completion date delayed

  • After waiting over a year, HL Turner Group and Wilcox and Barton presented their project plan for the new Allenstown Middle and Elementary School at the April 6 Planning Board Meeting. HL Turner Group—HL Turner Group

  • After waiting over a year, HL Turner Group and Wilcox and Barton presented their project plan for the new Allenstown Middle and Elementary School at the April 6 Planning Board Meeting. HL Turner Group—HL Turner Group

  • After waiting over a year, HL Turner Group and Wilcox and Barton presented their project plan for the new Allenstown Middle and Elementary School at the April 6 Planning Board Meeting. Architectural illustration courtesy of HL Turner Group

  • After waiting over a year, HL Turner Group and Wilcox and Barton presented their project plan for the new Allenstown Middle and Elementary School at the April 6 Planning Board Meeting. HL Turner Group—HL Turner Group

  • After waiting over a year, HL Turner Group and Wilcox and Barton presented their project plan for the new Allenstown Middle and Elementary School at the April 6 Planning Board Meeting. HL Turner Group—HL Turner Group

Monitor staff
Published: 4/7/2022 5:56:45 PM

Allenstown parents got their first look at the blueprint for where their town’s future will be educated.

At Wednesday night’s Planning Board meeting, the vision for a combined elementary and middle school on River Road came to life in updated plans and diagrams showing the to-be-built, 83,000-square-foot building and land surrounding it.

The plans showed a two-story building, with the bottom floor consisting of 60,000 square feet, which will include all the elementary school classrooms, a full-size basketball court with a stage connected to it, a cafeteria, office space, special education intervention rooms and other mix-use spaces. The second floor will predominantly serve as middle school classrooms, with lockers and lab space taking up some of the space.

“The first level will comprise all the common spaces for the school, as well as the kindergarten through fourth grade, which we call the elementary school,” said Doug Proctor from the H.L. Turner Group design firm in Concord. “The second floor will be comprised of the middle school, which also includes family consumer science lab, and many makerspaces and robotics labs and tech technology labs.”

The project to replace the existing elementary school and deteriorating middle school with a new building was approved by voters at last year’s town meeting. The new school, with a cost of about $32.5 million, is now expected to be open in early 2024, which is several months behind schedule due to supply chain issues.

Parents like Susan Lamontagne are happy to see the new school taking shape.

“This school is a need, not a want,” Lamontagne said. “It is an urgent need for (the middle school) and more cost-effective to have one building.”

Kristopher Fowler, a long-time Allenstown resident, is similarly glad to see that students will be getting a better space to learn.

“It is awful that our students have to deal with the conditions that they do. The new school is going to be amazing for the success of the children and staff ... for the future of our community. Allenstown is a rapidly growing and improving town. It deserves support and that begins with the residents.”

The current plan accounts for about 500 students and faculty at the school and accommodates a possible increase in the student population, which currently sits at 356 students. Each floor contains an extra classroom that could be used for various purposes.

Portions of the remaining area on the 59-acre plot will have significant playground space, a paved outdoor basketball court and a plunge pool. Engineer Erin Lambert, from Wilcox and Barton consulting firm, explained that the school will have ample parking, and the front of the building will feature two separate lanes just outside the main entrance, one closer to the building for buses to drop students off, and one farther away for parent drop off. Strategic fencing will funnel the students to two crosswalks, leading to the front doors.

To lessen traffic, the planning board requested that drivers use Route 28 as much as possible to access the school to lessen the traffic on River Road.

Initially, there will also be a soccer field constructed on the eastern side of the plot. Other fields will require additional funding. Included in the future plans are a baseball field, multi-use football and lacrosse field and student gardens.

Water supply was a topic of interest for citizens virtually attending Wednesday’s meeting, but they were assured that the situation has been vetted. Instead of connecting the town’s water and sewer lines down to the school, the facility will have its own wells and septic system.

The project has a $32.5 million price tag, with $19.5 million of that coming from a state building aid grant. The remaining $13 million will come from a bond that taxpayers agreed to last March.

The current elementary school will be considered for a new town hall and community center once it is vacated.

Parents and students have long complained about the conditions of the Allenstown schools, especially Armand Dupont middle school, with cold classrooms and flooding becoming constant problems over the years.

While the building project has generated excitement, there is still concern over the traffic coming off Route 28, with no turning lanes and a 50 mile per hour speed limit for buses to endure, but the project team those issues will be addressed with the N.H. Department of Transportation once the school is built.

Construction by Milestone Engineering and Construction, Inc of Concord is expected to begin by June 1. With the construction estimated to take 18 months, the building is expected to be finished by December of 2023, with the intention of having students take classes in the new school by the spring of 2024.

Originally, the project team was hoping to have construction finished by Sept. 1, 2023, but supply chain issues with various items have slowed the process.




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