Cape Elizabeth seeks ideas for 166-year-old school building

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The town is seeking proposals for reuse of the former Spurwink School.

The Spurwink School Reuse Committee is accepting proposals until June 24. The 166-year-old building served as the temporary home of the Thomas Memorial Library while the library was being renovated, but has been unoccupied since February.

The committee includes Town Councilors Caitlin Jordan and Jamie Garvin, School Board members Heather Altenburg and John Voltz, and at-large member Jim Walsh, a former town councilor. Facilities Director Greg Marles is the staff liaison.

A survey sent out with last year’s tax bills asked residents what should be done with the building, which is located next to the library. There were 807 responses; 52 percent said they want a new public use of the building, 24 percent said it should be rented out to the private sector, and 17 percent said it should be demolished.

The town, without the help from a separate committee, asked for proposals last fall, but didn’t receive any that were worth pursuing. Town Manager Mike McGovern emailed town department heads to see if staffers needed the space and outside proposals were accepted as well.

A learning hub, a senior center, and office space were all proposed, but McGovern and the town councilors didn’t think the ideas would work for the space. Also, many proposals were lacking details and business plans.

The reuse committee has created a standardized submission form with 11 questions to guide applicants. The form asks for a description of the project, the public benefit, a time line of the project and projected hours of operation, as well as a few financial questions.

“While several concepts have surfaced in some form or another early on, at this point we’re looking for those folks to formalize with more detail and specificity any of the ideas and plans that they’d actually like to have considered,” Garvin, the chairman of the committee, said.

“The committee thought the process would be best facilitated by creating a standardized mechanism and set of questions by which each of the proposals could be evaluated, and that’s what we’ve done with this (request for information),” he said.

Proposals should be sent to Greg Marles at 345 Ocean House Road, Cape Elizabeth. 

Following the submission deadline, the committee will meet to review and evaluate proposals. The committee has not said when it expects to chose a proposal.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.