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Plan for new middle school at Ledyard Center site defeated

By Anna Isaacs

Publication: The Day

Published March 27. 2014 4:00AM

Ledyard - The Town Council voted Wednesday night to nix the option of building a new Ledyard Middle School in the location of the Ledyard Center School, citing the large gap in preliminary cost estimates.

At a Municipal Building Committee meeting last week, a presentation from Silver/Petrucelli and Associates showed that building an entirely new school would cost at least $48.7 million with a reimbursement rate 10 percent lower than the 62.5 percent the state would cover for a renovation of the existing middle school. The renovation would cost an estimated $35.6 million.

Councilor Bill Saums originally pitched the idea of building a new school to the council after expressing concerns that the possible closure of Ledyard Center School - meant as a cost-saving measure for the larger project, and currently being weighed against closing Gallup Hill School - could draw critical traffic away from the town center's businesses.

"I'm disappointed but certainly not surprised," Saums said.

An earlier version of the middle school renovation plan - scrapped last-minute by the council a year ago - was much more expensive than this latest proposal. While Saums said he applauds the reduction in cost, he expressed his disappointment that the cost of his concept would no longer be palatable.

"The renovation of the existing school is costing far less, which makes this now a significant differential for the taxpayers," he said.

Meanwhile, the architectural firm is finalizing cost estimates for the remaining two options: closing Ledyard Center or Gallup Hill. The final decision will lie with the Board of Education.

Council members also voted to approve an emergency appropriation of $20,000 for repairs to the animal control facility that could have led to its closure.

The appropriation was prompted by a January facility inspection from the state animal control office, which set a deadline for the end of this month for the town to show a "significant effort" toward complying with state health and safety codes.

The investment will go toward a laundry list of repairs, including peeling paint, cracks and holes in the walls and floors that contain bacteria and let in rodents and insects, rusting to the metal kennel structures and mold buildup.

And after two winters of seasonally closing the scenic Lambtown Road Extension to vehicle traffic, the council voted to close the 2-mile gravel road for good.

Officials proposed the seasonal closing in the fall of 2012 to cut maintenance costs and protect the surrounding fields, wetlands and wildlife. The road will remain open to hikers and cyclists.

a.isaacs@theday.com

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