SANDOWN – The estimated cost for expanding the playground at North School has dropped significantly, according to Timberlane Regional School District facilities manager Jim Hughes.
The playground project will be considered by warrant article this year, but initial cost estimates put the price tag for the work at $90,000. Further investigation brought back a lowered cost of $63,200, Hughes told the school board on Jan. 22.
Though it’s too late to change the sum on the article going to deliberative, at that session voters can amend the figure down if they wish.
Initial discussions by administration surrounding the playground work spoke to the need for expanded playing field room for children to run around or play ball, but the plan presented last week does not contemplate that.
Hughes explained that the area to be expanded is currently a sloping hill on the end of the playground leading toward the emergency access road and parking lot. The grade would be brought up, a new fence installed, playground fiber laid and new equipment installed.
Site work is estimated at $15,000, playground fiber at $5,000, fencing at $8,200 and equipment at $35,000.
Hughes said that only a few trees would have to be brought down for the expanded site.
The initially higher bid was because of a higher estimated cost for site work, but with nearby company Busby Construction willing to truck the material in for less, Hughes was comfortable lowering the estimate.
The project will go out to bid if approved.
Board member Donna Green of Sandown asked why the project could not be done with community fundraising, as other such projects had been accomplished in that way.
While members of her board noted that the decision was about whether the school wanted the playground next year or in five years, superintendent Earl Metzler also weighed in.
It should have been part of the original construction, he said.
“We’re not going to make people stand with cans in their hands to beg for something they should already have,” said Metzler.
There were concerns from the public about the project, namely the utility of the expanded area if Sandown Central’s fourth and fifth graders were consolidated into the currently kindergarten through third grade school.
Parent Eric Beyrent pointed out that the older kids don’t spend much time on the playground equipment at recess but instead run around playing ball and tag.
“I don’t see how this serves the needs of the older children,” said Beyrent.
Hughes pointed out that physical education classes are also stymied at North when it comes to outside activities.
Whether the current site could accommodate a field was not tackled by the district’s leadership. It was suggested that a field could be created on the land in the front of the school. Hughes said such a project would cost another $100,000.
Beyrent said he knew people in the community who would help with such a project, from fundraising to site work.