Tele-Talk responses: Would you rather see Conway Recreation move to Kennett Middle School or have the town rehab its present site?

There were 10 responses to this week’s Tele-Talk question: Would you rather see Conway Recreation move to Kennett Middle School or have the town rehab its present site?

The Conway Recreation Center, I think, should be rehabbed by the town in its present site versus moving it to Kennett Middle School. Therefore I also say that the space at the Kennett Middle School, the 33,000 square feet, should be put into the new town office that they’re looking for, which they talked about before for $800,000; it’s plenty of space for the town to move into that place and it would be a lot cheaper. Ron Flip, North Conway.

To answer your question on moving the rec center to the unused and unrefurbished space at the middle school or fix the existing rec center, my answer is neither. The question also ignores the fact that we are currently in a search of a new town hall. If Conway occupies more space in the middle school, either by the rec center or additional children (read the sixth grade here), it will incur an additional cost to Conway taxpayers based upon the agreements with the sending towns. I remain confused by seeming lack of coordination between the town and the school board to determine how to best support all of the town requirements at a reduced cost. First, there are, I have been told, 11 existing classrooms in the middle school that are not being used even though they have already been refurbished at taxpayer expense. The school board keeps making noise concerning all the unrefurbished space but makes no mention of under-utilizing space that the taxpayers have paid to rebuild already. These 11 rooms could easily accommodate both the sixth and fifth grades. The elimination of 200 or so of these 700 elementary children would allow for the closure of one of the existing elementary facilities, saving school taxes virtually equivalent to the additional cost of adding students to the middle school. Second, relocate both the town hall and the rec center to the Pine Tree School property. Hold refurbishing to a minimum, saving the cost of upgrading the existing rec center and eliminating the cost of constructing a new town hall. Third, sell or demolish the old rec center and return the property to tax rolls. We would also have a realistic town emergency shelter here and an acceptable location for voters. Dick Klement, South Conway.

I think it makes a lot of sense to have Kennett Middle School be the site for Conway Recreation. There is space that’s being heated and maintained there that isn’t being utilized and could be used for recreation. And the building that’s currently being used for recreation sounds like it’s just pouring money into the sand, into a big hole. And the building where parks and rec is now in Center Conway could then possibly be sold for condos or put to some use. But overall, even though the middle school is asking an awful lot of money it seems for rent for the space, at least that’s staying in the town. It’s two pockets of the same pair of pants; it’s not going to cost the taxpayer as much as pouring money into the Center Conway site for bathrooms and water and everything else, and air conditioning being a problem. It just sounds ridiculous to stay there.

Why would the town want to moved down to the school? They’re running an excellent program at the present site. The building does need work, but with an estimate prepared by an architect and voted on by the voters, the cost could be spread out over a number of years. Another question that should be asked: Why is the school offering this site? It couldn’t be that they’re nervous about the fact that the space has been available for eight or nine years, empty, somewhere around 40,000 square feet, and they’re worried about the budget process and the voters now being aware of that. The first offer they gave to the town was to move down at no charge. Then they changed the requirements and said they wanted $2.98 a square foot. Plus there’s an additional operating cost over and above what we are paying now for expenses. It would also require additional staffing because of the location of the offices in relationship to the playing fields. The kids would be located over 100 yards from the existing building to the fields that were being made available down by the river. There is an extreme safety and security issue having the facilities that far away from the main building. The cost to fix up the old gym at the existing school — the backers who were going to fund part or all of that have backed out with their concerns about this site. The town has control over all of the fields they operate now. They would not have control of the fields other than the small area they are going to be issued from the school. The remainder of the fields are under the jurisdiction and control of the existing school. The new offer has less square footage than they have now and wouldn’t even fit the needs. The only thing enticing about it is a new gym.

If you’re referring to the original Kennett High School in Conway, that would be great. They could use the old pit as an aquatic center — turn that old pit into a swimming pool. Besides that, the parking situation is a little rough right there. You’d have to park your vehicles way out back. That’s a little inconvenient, where possibly if they upgraded the rec center in Center Conway, they could find a place for an indoor swimming pool there and make out the aquatic center. Both the suggestions make the new community center obsolete. It’s kind of an eyesore and a sore spot. Boy, for all the money they put into that, it really doesn’t get used very often.

I do not support Conway Parks and Recreation moving to the Kennett Middle School. I think that they should move the rec center to the Pine Tree School and they should close the Pine Tree School and consolidate the elementary schools.

Kennett Middle School is not a good place for the rec center. The old gym in the center of the school that they plan to use still needs to be renovated, as well as all the classrooms. Kennett Middle School is set up to be used for academics not athletics. Use of the fields outside is also up in the air. Add to this the increased number of cars coming and going. It’s already a nightmare trying to get out of the parking lot onto Route 16 and, so far, nothing has been done to make it better. I’d say take a wrecking ball to that old dump down there in Center Conway and build a new rec building on the site. The cost can’t be much more than the costs of renovation or rent and renovation at Kennett Middle School. The town should look at combining the rec with a new town hall and save money that way too.

Neither. Here is by far the best option: The Conway selectmen should sell the old recreation center to the Conway School Board for $1. Then the Conway School Board should designate it as yet another mostly empty school building. Maybe call it the “Hounsell School.” Then, submit a warrant article school bond request for yet another $2.1 million (or more) to have the building completely restored and brought up to code. Once restored, the Conway School Board should then sell the restored building back to Conway for $1. The advantage of this option is that the Conway selectmen can say this restoration cost nothing. The Conway School Board can say they finally closed one of their many mostly empty school buildings and, finally, maybe Mark Hounsell will get his name on a building plaque. Everybody is happy. Well, maybe not the taxpayers, but they are getting used to paying for unnecessary school bonds.

Yes, move the parks and recreation department to the Kennett Middle School. You’d be heating one building instead of two, plenty of space and parking. Who is the idiot that wants to spend $35,000 on a study; that instead could be put toward actual expenses? They get a study and they still can’t make up their minds. Much the same as the stupid school board that spent $280,000+ for a study, and they are still deliberating issues. That quarter of a million dollars could have been put toward the repairs or replacement of the items that needed fixing or replacing in the first place. Contractors would have given free estimates for these items. Did any of this work ever go out to competitive bidding? Is there anyone in charge of these areas that has some common sense and can make decisions or do we need to be stupid and spend thousands of dollars to do studies? We, the taxpayers, are the ones getting ripped off. Stop warrant articles like this, and vote to disapprove such wasteful spending. Are these studies just another form of graft? Makes one wonder. May be worth looking into. I’m watching.

I would rather see the sixth grade moved into Kennett Middle School and an elementary school closed than see the space used for anything other than education. This is the school board’s way of keeping all the elementary schools open even though enrollment continues to drop. After building a $1.42 million North Conway Community Center that already gets $75,000 a year from taxpayers, I don’t see any reason to spend additional money to renovate the Conway community building for a separate rec program. The North Conway center already has everything they want in the Conway center. Put all the recreational programs in a central location and consolidate administration. The town and school board both need to look at smart ways to reduce expenses so that the taxpayer burden does not continue to go up. Consolidation, if done properly, could reduce expenses, which could reduce taxes as well as free up money for salaries and benefits to keep well-qualified employees on board.

Tele-Talk: Would you like to see a later start than 7:30 a.m. for Kennett High and Kennett Middle?

The Alternative Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control say it's important for adolescents to get "optimum levels of sleep," and they support later start times for schools. A Conway School Board ad hoc committee agreed but concluded that such a move would be too costly as it would require purchasing 17 additional school buses.

Question: Would you like to see a later start than 7:30 a.m. for Kennett High and Kennett Middle?

Call 733-5822 Saturday and Sunday and leave your comments on our machine. You may fax your responses to 356-8360 or e-mail them This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Comments can also be posted on The Conway Daily Sun's Facebook page. Results will be published Tuesday.

 

Tele-Talk: Would you rather see Conway Parks & Recreation move to Kennett Middle School or have the town rehab its present site in Center Conway?

Last July, the Conway School Board proposed to lease to the town unused space at Kennett Middle School as a new site for the parks and recreation department, which is currently housed at the Conway Community Building. In September, the town rebuffed the proposal and last month decided to put a $35,000 architectural study on the April warrant to see how much it would cost to renovate the 1910-built community building. The school board now wants to reopen talks about moving parks and rec to Kennett Middle.

Question: Would you rather see Conway Parks & Recreation move to Kennett Middle School or have the town rehab its present site in Center Conway?

Call 733-5822 Saturday and Sunday and leave your comments on our machine. You may fax your responses to 356-8360 or e-mail them This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Comments can also be posted on The Conway Daily Sun's Facebook page. Results will be published Tuesday.