Monthly Archives: July 2015

Phillips Rd. Bridge CLOSED

Sandown Town Hall sent out this bulletin today:

Per order of the NH Department of Transportation, the Phillips Road Bridge is now CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.  Please seek alternate routes.


During a particularly pleasant kayak excursion this morning on Lily Pond*, I actually saw and conversed with the Department of Transportation fellows inspecting the bridge. One intrepid man donned rubber waders practically up to his neck.  Holding a hammer, he walked down the steep embankment, through the thick growth at the shore, into the woody shrubs at the water’s edge, and finally into the Exeter River.  There, he walked carefully over slippery rocks and climbed over the beaver dam that nearly didn’t hold him to the underside of the bridge. Then he began banging on the metal parts.

It seemed a primitive procedure, but an effective one. He drew a tape measure out of his chest pocket and pressed it from the outside edge of the metal to the spot where he left his hammer. Then again from his chest pocket, he fished out a digital camera and took photos of his hammer and other areas of interest.

Even to a casual observer from the comfort of a kayak, the bridge looks in need of repair.  The metal forming the arch is extensively rusted where it meets a strong concrete foundation. The rocks and earth the metal supports seem to be seeping out at the sides. The road surface, however, is in very good shape especially in contrast with Fremont Road in that area.

A few Deliberative sessions ago (was it 2013?) a bridge engineer attended our meeting to explain the structural issues with that bridge.  It’s not all that old (though old is relative to planned life expectancy) but many bridges of that design were constructed in New Hampshire around the same time, I recall him saying, and they are all in various stages of decline (unless remediated).

Who knew bridge design has fads – not unlike education?

*An earlier version of this post said Phillips Pond when I was obviously on Lily Pond.  The two ponds do connect but that takes more effort than I have.

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No Decision Released Yet in Towns v. TRSD

As of 3 p.m. today, Judge Schulman had not released a decision in Sandown and Danville v. TRSD.

The court provides decisions, when they become available, for a modest photocopying fee.  Unfortunately, decisions are not published online, which means one has to physically go to the courthouse to obtain a copy.

A trial transcript is expensive and is of most use for lawyers when appealing. You can order a CD for considerably less. Both can be obtained here.  I am content to wait for the judge to discuss the arguments in his decision and will publish the decision on this blog when I obtain it.

Docket number in Rockingham Superior Court:  15-CV-706

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Eagle Tribune’s Summary of Hearing

Here is the Eagle Tribune’s summary of events at the hearing yesterday for Sandown and Danville V. TRSD:

http://www.eagletribune.com/news/new_hampshire/fate-of-sandown-central-still-unclear/article_b3b880dc-d738-5f1a-85e4-124bae1b727d.html

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the hearing but I do know from past experience that Judge Schulman is a very fine jurist. He also understands the pressing time considerations of the case.

If you were in attendance, I would welcome your comments.


This morning the School Board Chair sent an email informing the school board members of what transpired yesterday:

Hi again everyone,

I attended the hearing yesterday, and the judge has taken the case under advisement and we expect a decision soon. I will keep you posted.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer!

Nancy


One cannot but be grateful for the press.

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Sandown Minority Committee Meeting Tonight

Town Hall

7 pm

Public invited.

For other meeting dates see the top of this blog’s home page.

 

 

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Injunction Hearing Concerning Consolidation on Friday

The injunctive relief hearing is scheduled for Friday, July 24th at 9:00 am at the Rockingham Superior Courthouse.

All cases before judges each morning are scheduled for 9 a,m. so the case may or may not be heard promptly. I have been notified by the school board chairman that, “The hearing will consist of argument of counsel only, no testimony is expected.”

The courthouse is a large, modern complex on Route 125 in Brentwood. Parking is easy and free.

Observers to the court are welcome. By informal convention, people usually sit on the side of the courtroom behind the party they support.  If you support the defendant, for instance, you would sit on the side behind the defendant’s table (which is on different sides in different courtrooms).

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Memories of Budget Votes Past

Guest Contribution by Arthur Green

Let’s set the record straight on the budget committee’s role in the Sandown North playground funding and the sprinklers.

The Tri-Town Times of July 9, reporting on the cancellation of the $90,000 Sandown North playground project, concluded misleadingly with the following unattributed words:

Up until the budget committee’s final meeting prior to the public hearing, the above funds were included in the proposed operating budget, but they were removed by the budget committee in a 5-4 vote, with both Sandown representative, Arthur Green and Cathy Gorman, voting against.

This is not the first time my voting at that meeting has been brought to public attention.  At the June 4 School Board meeting, Supt. Metzler reminisced over the votes Cathy Gorman and I cast against the $265,000 sprinkler system proposed for Sandown North.

Events have shown that the votes against these items cast by me and Ms. Gorman were absolutely correct.

Contrary to the report in the Tri-Town, the expanded playground was a last-minute addition, and was never before the budget committee prior to the final Dec 23, 2014 meeting. The same is true of the sprinkler system for Sandown North.

Some choice video clips concerning these two projects will surprise you.

Here’s the budget committee being assured on Dec. 11, 2014 that the $744,000 savings from Sandown Central take account of all offsetting costs of the consolidation.  Less than 24 hours later the sprinklers and playground project are added to the budget for the first time.

Here is Dr. Metzler assuring the budget committee on Dec. 23, 2014 that $265,000 is a “conservative number” and will “confidently” pay for the sprinklers with water.  (The number is mentioned earlier in the meeting but is clearly stated later and captured in the clips below.) We find out in June that the number is really $521,000.

Now you can hear my statement at the Dec. 23 meeting as to why I was voting against the sprinkler system.  Here Dr. Metzler tells the committee that a sprinkler could still be installed out of surplus regardless of the budget committee’s vote:

Listen to Supt. Metzler’s explanation at the June 4 School Board meeting why the sprinkler system cost estimate had gone from $265,000 to $521,000 (because the original estimate didn’t include “water”).

Here Supt. Metzler muses that if Green and Gorman hadn’t stripped $250,000 from the budget for Sandown North sprinklers, he could have combined that money with the money voted at Deliberative for sprinklers at Danville to almost completely fund sprinklers at Sandown North.

The following letter from me and Cathy Gorman corrects the record and was run in the July 16 Tri-Town:

Contrary to the claim in “North School Not Likely To Get Expanded Playground This Year” (July 9 Tri-Town), the expanded playground was a last-minute addition to the proposed budget, and was never before the budget committee prior to the final Dec 23, 2014 meeting.

Sandown and district residents should also be aware that:

The playground expansion was NOT part of the facilities improvement budget proposed in November.  The same is true of the sprinkler system for Sandown  North.

It was NOT in the facilities improvement 3 year or 5 year plan.  The same is true of the sprinkler system for Sandown North.

At the Dec. 11 budget committee meeting, when defunding Sandown Central was first put before the committee, the administration repeatedly assured the committee that the stated $744,000 saving included all offsetting costs.  But, less than 24 hours after that meeting, the administration posted a new budget draft which suddenly included an additional $90,000 for playground expansion and $260,000 for a sprinkler system.

When these items were deliberated at the next (and final) budget committee meeting Dec. 23, the administration assured the committee that these improvements were NOT required for the consolidation.  No documentation or details were provided beyond the simple dollar amount on the draft budget.

The Tri-Town appears to have been misinformed when it reported that “Up until the budget committee’s final meeting … the above funds were included in the proposed operating budget”.

We have learned over recent months that:

$260,000 for a sprinkler system was a gross underestimate.  A more accurate figure is over $500,000.

The playground project as proposed requires only $65,000.

We continue to stand behind the votes we cast on these ill-considered, last-minute budget increases. We have consistently recommended that the consolidation requires a thorough and public process, which has not yet taken place.

Arthur Green  Past Member, Timberlane Budget Committee
Cathy Gorman  Member, Timberlane Budget Committee

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On Re-Watching the Dec. 18th TRSB Meeting

Prophesy comes in strange places.  The December 18, 2014 school board meeting was prophetic.  I would encourage everyone now upset with the Sandown schools consolidation to watch this meeting, specifically starting at one hour and thirty minutes.  You will see everything that has come back to haunt us mentioned in this meeting and dismissed with reassurances, some of them shockingly blithe in the wisdom of hindsight.

Given that I was today once again denied entry into a Sandown school, I was surprised to find this very issue raised heatedly by me way back in in December. Here is a short clip of just that exchange.

Today I simply asked to be included on a tour of the building organized by the Sandown minority committee.

For those who are curious about the applicable school board policy, please scroll down to the blog posting, “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” Mrs. Steenson did, in fact, make up her own rules just for me. Later on in the December meeting Dr. Metzler says school board members should wait to be invited to a school.  Let me just say, been there, done that, still didn’t gain me access.

Some meetings later when the full-time kindergarten program was being discussed, Mrs. Steenson and Mrs. Delfino boasted about what a lovely time they both had visiting the kindergarten classes and taking part in the lessons.  My gosh, how could they disrupt education in such an irresponsible fashion?  I didn’t even request to go in a classroom.

Please don’t think this is a personality issue between me and Mrs. Steenson and the administration. What you are seeing over and over is an outright abuse of power and I can assure you it is not reserved for me.

The entire meeting: 

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