Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Squamscott Community Commons to Purchase HS Annex

EXETER, NH: At their Tuesday, August 8, 2006 meeting, the members of the Exeter Region Cooperative School Board voted to sell the Exeter Area High School Annex (formerly the Exeter Junior High School) on Linden Street to Squamscott Community Commons, a non-profit organization, for $440,000. Title will transfer to Squamscott Community Commons on June 30, 2007 after the terms of the purchase and sale agreement have been met.

The terms and final purchase price were negotiated through a series of meetings with representatives from both boards. (For Squamscott Community Commons: Carter Siegel, President; Mark Moeller, Don Briselden, Chris Davies, Charlie Tucker, of counsel, and Project Manager, Carol Aten. For ERCSD: Patty Lovejoy, Ray Trueman, community representative Carol Bridges, and Business Manager, Walter Pierce.)

Highlights of the agreement include: ERCSD will retain the rear parking lot to support the expansion of Seacoast School of Technology, bus access will be allowed behind the new community center, and the Drug Free Zone at the Tuck Learning Center will be expanded to include the community center parcel. Should Squamscott Community Commons cease to operate, the school district will have the right to reacquire the property.

Squamscott Community Commons plans to demolish the 1967 school building and construct a “green” multi-tenant non-profit community center that will be home to a full-facility family YMCA and agencies that provide programs and services in health, wellness, arts, culture, nutrition, childcare and recreation to the region. The new community center will be an important partner in a wider campus, The Tuck Learning Campus: Alternative Education Program, Exeter Adult Education, Great Bay eLearning Charter School, Seacoast Charter School, and Seacoast School of Technology. The concept of a community center has been endorsed through the Exeter Master Plan Visioning Sessions held in 2002:“The second highest ranked need identified (after improving the high school) was the establishment of a multi-use community center that would feature a multi-use indoor recreation space, indoor pool, and public meeting rooms.”

The agreement comes after study by the Linden Street ReUse Committee, and the successful March 2006 vote from 65% of the SAU16 voters approving the sale of the property from ERCSD to Squamscott Community Commons. With the purchase and sale agreement in hand, the staff, board of directors and volunteers of Squamscott Community Commons will commence the capital campaign to raise the estimated $13 million to create the new center.

On behalf of the community center, board president Carter Siegel remarked: “Squamscott Community Commons is excited and very proud to be collaborating with the Exeter Region Cooperative School District to bring the highest quality programs and services to our community. Together we are creating a unique and vibrant community center that will be enjoyed by generations to come.”

“This will be a great asset to the community and the SAU16 school district,” stated Greg Kann, Chair of the Exeter Region Cooperative School District board. “This project fills a long standing void. We look forward to the synergies between our educational institutions and Squamscott Community Commons.”

Carol Walker Aten, Project Manager
Squamscott Community Commons

Dr. Arthur L. Hanson
Superintendent of Schools, SAU #16