CONCORD-Voters of Concord will no longer be deciding on a 6.3 million dollar construction bond for a new gymnasium. On Friday November 1, after months of coming up with a proposal for the pricey project, the vote scheduled for November 12th was rescinded.
Originally, the board members thought that it was the perfect time for the vote because the existing bond will expire this year. The bond expiration combined with an expected additional savings from heating and maintenance costs of the existing gym, was thought to be enough to have little to none of an increase in the tax rate. However, after talking more in depth with the bond bank and a private lender about the costs of the project, Rayburn felt that the outcome would have too much of an effect on taxpayers, and at that point had recommended the vote be canceled.
"For the first year going through the Bond Bank there would be an increase of 28, 29 cents, and then in the second year that would jump again to $1.99 so the tax rate over a two year period would jump from $1.49 to $1.99" said Rayburn. Even after running the numbers on a 30-year bond Rayburn still felt it would be too much of an increase on fixed income taxpayers.
Due to the decision to rescind the bond vote, there are still many issues with the current gym that need to be addressed. At the Concord School board meeting held on Monday the 4th of this month, there was time given for the public to ask questions they might have had regarding the gymnasium. One local resident asked, "What are the plans as far as the gym goes for now? I mean are they at a minimum going to try to put a couple toilets in each of the locker rooms?" after his questions he continued, "Its kind of an embarrassment actually, I mean for the town, its terrible."
Conversations continued and Rayburn responded in agreement that the next step would be to put enough toilets into the bathrooms in order to bring it up to the current Vermont Plumbing code. This would require that there be 7 female and 5 male toilets put in. "Looking at the space we have there now, we would probably either have to lose the stage, but there's a ledge under the stage so it couldn't go there, you know that was one of the options. Or we could build out off of one end of the gymnasium as a bathroom facility."
The cost to facilitate new bathrooms into the gymnasium wouldn't be as expensive as the original plans to put up a new building. "We had somebody come and just give us some rough numbers, obviously it wasn't a bid so it was just to get an idea of what it would be, they priced it out to about two hundred thousand" said Rayburn. Despite the concerns to get this project started, there are still no plans set in stone.
Another major concern of Rayburn's and other board members was the roof. Over the years snow build up on the roof has weakened the structure. However, the roof should be okay as long as it is being monitored regularly and shoveled off when there is too much snow. Rayburn still feels it is an issue that needs to be addressed, "I think that something needs to be done. Obviously this wasn't the year as far as the tax rate goes but you know if our equalized people goes up then there needs to be a strong hard look at that."
For now the Dickson Gymnasium will remain and the school board hopes to have the renovations, in order to meet code, finished before the upcoming basketball season.