Bath council OKs land sale for new RSU 1 high school

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved an option to sell land for a new high school to Regional School Unit 1.

The RSU now has several steps to take – including a straw poll vote, site approval by the state, and design work – and ultimately exercising the option by July 31, 2017, City Manager Bill Giroux said that evening.

RSU 1 would purchase the 26-acre Wing Farm business park parcel for $277,500, an average of appraisals arranged by the city and the RSU. The two numbers were about $10,000 apart, Giroux said.

If the district approves the project, the state would reimburse those funds, according to RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel.

The proposal drew no public comment at the meeting.

“There you go, RSU 1,” Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco told Manuel, who was in the audience, after the council approved the accord. “See if you can build us a high school up there.”

The council reviewed a draft option agreement Sept. 7, and went into executive session to discuss a purchase price. Councilors took no action after the closed-door discussion, but did urge the public to provide feedback on the matter.

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,” Manuel said in August. 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, he said.

The RSU 1 board last October unanimously supported rebuilding Morse High School at a different site than its current High Street location. 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.

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

The six lots Regional School Unit 1 proposes to buy from the city of Bath comprise 26 acres of the Wing Farm business park. RSU 1’s main office sits just south of the parcels.

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.