Bath City Council to hear 2 high school proposals

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BATH — The City Council is scheduled to hear a presentation next week from Regional School Unit 1 officials about building a new high school.

Representatives from Lavallee Brensinger Architects of Manchester, New Hampshire, which the school district hired to provide architectural and engineering services for the project, will also attend the meeting, Superintendent Patrick Manuel said in an interview Dec. 22.

The district has been in talks with city officials about building a new high school at one of two sites owned by the municipality: one adjacent to Bath Middle School, and the other at Wing Farm Park.

The pros and cons of both sites, from the RSU’s perspective, will be discussed Wednesday, Jan. 6.

“Our aim there is to share information publicly, and get their reaction … (and) gauge their … willingness to sell those two properties,” Manuel said. “If both properties are up for sale, then we need to start having appraisals done, and looking into what the acquisition costs are.”

Once the district decides to pursue one property, a nonbinding community straw vote for a new school at that site – No. 6 of a 21-step major capital school construction process – will take place, possibly next spring.

The RSU 1 Board of Directors in October unanimously supported rebuilding Morse High School at a different site. That decision followed a study that found the existing High Street school is unsuitable for renovation or expansion.

The study of both the nearly nine decade-old school and the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center – prepared by Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, a South Portland engineering company – found “the existing site … unsuitable due to the limits on the physical area available for expansion of the school resulting from sheer lack of land.”

The study also pointed out that Morse’s footprint of about 124,000 square feet, plus the technical center’s nearly 43,000 square feet, comprise a total of about 167,000 square feet. But the two facilities need more than 200,000 square feet.

Several surrounding properties would have to be purchased for there to be enough land, and not all the owners are interested in selling, Ron Lamarre of Lavallee Brensinger Architects  said previously. The Manchester, New Hampshire-based company has been hired by RSU 1 to provide architectural and engineering services for the project.

Building a new school could take two years, while renovation could span four or five and be less economical, Lamarre has said, adding that a new school could be complete  in 2019 or 2020.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Regional School Unit 1, which hopes to build a new high school at one of two locations in Bath, will discuss its project with the Bath City Council Wednesday, Jan. 6. The new facility would replace the existing Morse High School.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.