Bath council nears vote on land sale for high school

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BATH — The City Council could vote as soon as Sept. 21 on an option to sell land for a new high school to Regional School Unit 1.

A decision on a purchase-and-sale agreement for 26 acres at the Wing Farm business park would come sometime after that pact.

The council reviewed a draft option agreement at its meeting Wednesday, Sept. 7. Afterwards it went into executive session to discuss a purchase price, which will largely be based on appraisals arranged by the city and the RSU.

Councilors took no action after the closed-door discussion, but did urge the public to provide feedback on the matter.

Having a viable site qualifies RSU 1 to receive state funding for the project, City Manager Bill Giroux told the council.

“The RSU is working very hard to see that the state … funds this with every available dollar that they have for this school,” in order to minimize the amount of local funds to be used, Giroux said.

The RSU has been in talks with city officials about building a new high school either adjacent to Bath Middle School, or across Congress Avenue at Wing Farm. The Wing Farm property includes six lots at the north end of the business park.

The option is “not a binding agreement that we have to purchase the property; it just allows us to hopefully have the city hold the property for us,” RSU 1 Superintendent of Schools Patrick Manuel said last month. He also said the accord also allows RSU 1 to apply to the state Board of Education for site approval for the construction project while the district does further research.

The RSU 1 board last October unanimously supported rebuilding Morse High School at a different site than where it is now. The decision followed a study that determined the nearly 90-year-old school is unsuitable for renovation or expansion.

The school would be built near the district’s central office at 34 Wing Farm Parkway. RSU 1’s option to purchase the land would expire July 31, 2017.

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

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.