Bath voters OK school bond, charter changes, street work

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BATH — Voters by a 3-1 margin Tuesday approved a construction bond for a new Morse High School.

They also supported two City Charter amendments and a local bond for street and sidewalk improvements.

The school bond passed in all four Regional School Unit 1 communities, 3,195 to 1,020. The unofficial tallies were 1,853 to 448 in Bath; 194-43 in Arrowsic; 528-187 in Phippsburg, and 620-342 in Woolwich.

The state will pay $67.4 million of the $75.3 million school cost; $7.2 million will be funded locally through borrowing, and $700,000 is earmarked from fundraising. The building, to be constructed north of the Wing Farm business park, will replace the nearly 88-year-old Morse school at 826 High St.

“We’re very pleased with the results,” RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said Wednesday morning. “We’re excited, and we’re ready to move forward with continuing the design of the building, and the site work and purchasing the property (from the city).”

“I’d like to thank all the voters that came out and supported this project,” he added. “It’s an exciting thing for students, staff and the community.”

The school – which will also house the Bath Regional Career & Technical Center – could open in August 2020. The building will be accessed via Anchor Road, off Congress Avenue, with emergency access only from Wing Farm Parkway.

The planned three-story building is to be nearly 186,000 square feet, a bit larger than the school and separate BRCTC combined. Morse has a population of 615, and the new school would be built for 650.

More information can be found through the Morse-BRCTC Building Project link at rsu1.org.

One Bath charter amendment, which passed 1,217 to 965, allows the city manager to live outside of Bath, but only with approval from a majority of the City Council. The city is searching for a permanent replacement for Bill Giroux, who left the manager position this summer.

The other charter amendment, which brings candidate nomination deadlines for city elections in agreement with new Maine law, passed 1,817 to 311.

Voters also passed a $2.8 million local bond for street and sidewalk improvements, 1,832 to 395. The work, which includes safety upgrades, will take place over the next three to five years. Exactly where it will occur will be decided after the vote.

Most recent street improvements have been paid for by a 2014 bond, funds from which are drying up this year.

The election drew 2,342 Bath residents, 34 percent of the total number of registered voters.

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

David Sinclair of Bath, a former city councilor, inserts his ballot into a voting machine at Bath Middle School Tuesday. He is flanked by his children, 4-year-old Beckett and 16-month-old Ani. Election clerk Les White is at far left.

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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.