By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – An architectural firm has been chosen to design a replacement for the Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester at a location to be determined.
The new facility is anticipated to cost at least $20 million.
The state’s Executive Council on Wednesday signed the contract with the Omaha, Nebraska firm HDR Architecture Inc. to design a facility by next May.
HDR was the winner of four bids received by the state Department of Administrative Services in competitive bidding which went out in September 2022.
The state will use federal American Rescue Act funds to pay HDR $1,576,530 which, with a contingency fund and $67,000 for in-house engineering, will add up to an almost $1.8 million project.
The goal is to design a 20,000 to 25,000 square foot facility for 18 youths which will have “more of a residential atmosphere” than the 50,000 square foot, 144-bed Sununu Youth Services Center described in the contract overview as “inefficient” and based on an outdated correctional model for handling troubled youth.
The current budget called for it to be closed in March but an extension was granted.
The number of youths at the Sununu Center in recent years has hovered around 20 or fewer and the cost of operating the facility is considered high, at $13 million a year.
The 150-acre property itself in North Manchester is valuable and could be returned to the tax base once the Sununu Center is closed.
Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington of Concord, the lone Democrat on the council who has announced her candidacy for Governor, asked about the cost of the contract when there is no location.
A legislative committee is looking at three locations but Lori Weaver, commissioner of Health and Human Services said a decision is expected soon.
One favored is at the new Hampstead Hospital for children in Hampstead but other potential locations include Concord and Manchester.
25th MOOSE PLATE ANNIVERSARY
Gov. Chris Sununu and the council celebrated 25 years of the conservation and heritage plates, also known as the “Moose Plate” program, and named June 14 Moose Plate Day.
Funds raised from the voluntary, $30 purchase go to the state conservation committee, state library, and parks along with Fish and Game.
$32.5 million has been raised in 25 years and there are currently 80,000 moose plates.
SPECIAL ELECTION CALLED FOR HOUSE SEAT IN ENFIELD
The governor and council approved a special election to be held with a primary on Aug. 22 and a general election on Oct. 10 for the Grafton District 16 House seat.
State Rep. Joshua Adjutant, D-Enfield resigned April 1 following a head injury at work.
SIMPSON, SKELTON RENOMINATED
Sununu has nominated Carleton Simpson of Hampton to another term on the Public Utilities Commission with a salary of $134,446.
A public hearing on his reappointment will be held.
Also, the governor nominated Michael J. Skelton of Bedford to another term on the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority.
NH COALITION GETS $3.6 CONTRACT
The council approved a non-competitive, sole-source contract to the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence for $3.6 million for a statewide domestic and sexual violence prevention program through June 2025, primarily using state general funds.
Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, R-Wakefield questioned $56,000 of the contract for administrative services.
CONSERVATION EASEMENT FOR NORTHUMBERLAND
The council approved a $1 million conservation easement on 358 acres in the Town of Northumberland (Groveton) to be held by the Nature Conservancy.
CANNON GETS $800,000
With $18 million expected to be spent in the upcoming budget to replace the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, the council also approved $800,000 for snowmaking at the state-owned ski area in Franconia Notch, Wednesday.
STUDENTS FROM HOLLIS UPPER ELEMENTARY GET TO SHAKE SUNUNU’s HAND
As part of a tour of the State House, Gov. Sununu shook the hands of students from the Hollis Upper Elementary School.
$1.2B INCREASE IN MEDICAID MANAGED CARE CONTRACT
The council questioned Health and Human Services officials about a contract change with three providers of Medicaid managed care by increasing by $1.2 billion to a $5.9 billion contract. The companies are AmeriHealth Caritas New Hampshire, Inc. of Philadelphia; Boston Medical Center; and Granite State Health Plan Inc.