Huot Center/science labs/football stadium project complete at $16.8 M

LACONIA — The Huot Regional Technical Education Center renovation/construction project is 99.99 percent complete and is on-time and on-budget, said School District Business Administrator Ed Emond.

The final cost of the project was $16.8 million, of which $850,000 was raised privately — either through personal gifts or through a number of corporate sponsors. An additional $200,000 of in-kind donations helped a capital fundraising campaign exceed exceed its $1 million goal.

Emond said to date, $550,000 of the $850,000 cash pledges has been received. $85,000 was taken in over homecoming weekend, he reported.

In the meantime, all of the contractors have been paid. The "city pays the bills," Emond said, adding that as money from pledges comes in, it goes to reimburse the city.

Management of the project on the Laconia High School campus was headed by a Joint Building Committee that included members of the School Board and City Council.

The project consisted of building a separate, 32,000-square-foot Huot Center building along Dewey Street, renovating some of the same previously Huot-occupied space (28,000-square-feet) as state-of the art science labs and classrooms now known as the Richard Dearborn Science Center, and building the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium — including Jim Fitzgerald Field, the upper Bobotas field, and a smaller playing field located directly behind the school.

Funding for the project came from a mishmash of combined sources, with $7.125 million coming from State School Building Aid made available through the N.H. Capital Budget in 2012-2013. Another $6.5 million came from a interest-free federal QZAB (Qualified Zone Academy Bond) and $2.375 million was borrowed by the city.  Private donations ranged from the $250,000 donated by the Bank of New Hampshire to multiple $500 and $1,000 donations from local residents and businesses.

City Councilor Matt Lahey was the head of the capital campaign that raised the $1 million and said he wanted to thank the taxpayers of Laconia for supporting the Huot Project. As for the individual donors, large and small, Lahey said they made the project possible.

"What really made it special was the in-kind assistance that helped us built the niceties — like the press box and the concession stand," Lahey said. He also gave special thanks to Emond and City Councilor Bob Hamel who were constant presences during the construction period.

As for the actual balance sheet presented to the most recent Joint Building Committee, $849,691 was contributed or promised by individuals and corporate sponsors and Emond said an additional $52,000 is anticipated, leaving $101,629 in a cash shortfall, after public funding is included.

On the asset side, the project had $36,629 left over in the contingency fund, a $40,000 balance in the professional services account and estimated Public Service of New Hampshire rebates of $25,000 totaling $101,629.

The fund-raising campaign continues said Lahey.

Emond said that there are three granite steps leading up the stadium still available for inscription at $5,000 each. He said that "once the steps are gone, they're gone" and this is the last chance for someone to purchase a step.