County approves firm to do federal land study

BRETTON WOODS – The Boston firm, HDR Engineering, will do the economic impact study of federal land ownership in Coos County.
Coos County Treasurer Fred King, who was charged with overseeing the project for the county commission and delegation, said North Country Council recommended the firm from the six proposals received last fall. HDR Engineering is an international architecture, engineering, consulting firm. The Boston office did the 2012 State Rail Plan for the N.H. Department of Transportation. King said NCC has been in contact with HDR Vice President Peter Reilly.
The Request for Proposals issued for the study set a maximum budget of $50,000. HDR's proposal called for a budget of $44,650.
King said the delegation set aside $50,000 for the study in the 2012 budget. He said he will be sending a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional office in Hadley, Mass., following up on his request that the service help cover the cost of the study. The study was prompted by the Androscoggin Headwaters Conservation Project, which protected over 31,000 acres of land around the headwaters of the Androscoggin River. Of the total, 7,452 acres was added to the wildlife refuge.
King noted that Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge Manager Paul Casey had requested to see a copy of the plan before the contract was signed. He said Casey can see the contract after the service puts its money down. King said he is also requesting the Trust for Public Lands, which facilitated the headwaters initiative, contribute to the cost of the study. Trust officials had specified a willingness to contribute if they were allowed to have input on the Request for Proposals.
King said the study will be an independent study and he has worked with NCC to ensure there is no political agenda. He said he expects the study will take several months.
The commission voted unanimously to approve the selection of HDR.
The commissioners opened three bids to redesign and upgrade the Coos County website. Mainstay Technologies of Laconia, Sunny Valley Creations of Columbia, and Virtual Towns & Schools of Maynard, Mass., submitted proposal to do the webpage. Commissioner Paul Grenier made a motion to have the county's IT director, David Leveille, review the proposals and make a recommendation to the commission at the September meeting.
Delegation Chair Robert Theberge thanked the commission for moving forward on hiring a company to upgrade the webpage. He said the webpage can be an economic tool for the county. He said he was glad to see the commission was having the proposals reviewed and looking at the scope of work proposed and not just based a decision on price.