ROWLEY — The town is looking at buying a $70,000 snowblower for its recently renovated elementary school.
Rowley recently completed a $40 million renovation of Pine Grove Elementary School. Students returned to class in the remodeled building last month and a grand opening celebration was held Saturday.
But winter is on the way and selectmen discussed purchasing a new snowblower at their meeting Monday night.
Selectman Joseph Perry told fellow board members that the school has used the town Highway Department’s snowblower, but with a renovated school building comes a larger area to clear.
“I think that we really do need a second unit and to base it at the Pine Grove,” Perry said, presenting a motion to buy the same type of snowblower for the school.
Perry said a new snowplow would cost approximately $70,000 and a storage shed would cost “in the neighborhood of $20,000.”
“I think it is still covered in the (owner’s contingency account) budget,” Perry said. “The last figure I had on that was a little over $250,000.”
Selectmen Clifford Pierce and Deana Ziev expressed concern about the potential cost of a new snowblower and shed.
Selectman David Petersen also found the $70,000 price tag a bit steep.
“I would like to look at some alternatives, maybe, before we make a decision,” he said. “We understand they need a sizable snowblowing machine over there but $70,000, plus the shed, it’s close to $100,000. That machine’s going to sit there for 10 months of the year doing nothing.”
Petersen pointed to the Cemetery Commission, which took over a Highway Department truck after it purchased a new one about two years ago.
“This might be a situation where we do the same thing,” Petersen said. “They have had that two or three years over at the Highway Department. Maybe, we could turn that over to the school and buy them a new one that will get a lot more use.”
Petersen said the Highway Department has been using a new snowblower for the past few years and the town could purchase a new one for that department while giving the school the machine that is now used.
“I just like to see some sort of alternative situation looked into before we jump into it,” he said.
Pierce also asked if the town could look into buying a used snowblower.
The issue was tabled until the board’s meeting Oct. 21. Town Administrator Deborah Eagan said she would look into the owner’s contingency account with the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.