HAMPSTEAD – The School Board is getting professional help to figure out what would make the best sense and be the most cost effective way to create an emergency access road for Hampstead Middle School.
A second access road to and from the school has been a topic of discussion on several occasions ever since 1978 when the school was built. The need for a second emergency access road was broached again by the Hampstead Police and Fire Departments, generating this latest effort.
The initial proposal that emerged from the Facilities Committee called for a two lane, paved roadway. Farwell Engineering Services was hired to conduct an engineering study. The plan noted significant wetlands issues and possible sight line issues on Emerson Avenue.
After receiving vocal opposition from the community, the board decided to scrap the two-lane, paved road proposal and charged the Facilities Committee with exploring all the options that have been suggested and return to the board with a new proposal. The board made it clear that it wants a proposal for an emergency access that would be single lane, gravel and gated – which is what was initially sought by Hampstead Fire and Police officials.
The board authorized Facilities Director Michael Hall to hire Bill Norton of Norton Asset Management to conduct an in-depth study of the issue and to identify the alternatives open to the board road.
Board member Jim Stewart said at Tuesday, Feb.11’s meeting, that Norton had identified six potential alternatives, ranging in cost from $30,000 to $245,000. Of those six, Norton said he would recommend considering two of them.
One is the route already designed by Farwell Engineering that would come out on Emerson Avenue across from Little’s Lane. The second, and the one Norton suggested should be pursued, would bring the emergency access road out onto the St. Anne’s Catholic Church field. Stewart told the board that Norton said this alternative has more in its favor.
The St. Anne’s pathway would link Hampstead Middle and Central schools, has no abutter homeowners’ property with wetland and run-off issues, and would exit onto Emerson at a better location.
Norton has made contact with the New Hampshire Catholic Diocese and has arranged for the Bishopric to review the proposed plan and a request for a right-of-way for the emergency access road to cross over the Diocese’s property.
Stewart said he thinks he will have a report to bring back to the School Board in about two weeks.
“Once we have this information, the board can decide on which way it wants to proceed,” Stewart said.
A rough roadway already exists from the St. Anne’s field to the school property, and is used by those who put on fireworks displays. It would not have a grade or wetland issue.