Cumberland-North Yarmouth arts center could open August 2018

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CUMBERLAND — Ground could be broken by next June on a new performing arts center at Greely High School, with the building done by August 2018.

Residents in Cumberland and North Yarmouth on Nov. 8 voted 4,149 to 3,953 – a 2 percent margin – to borrow as much as $9.5 million to build the PAC.

The 26,000-square-foot center will be built at the rear of Greely High, on a leveled-off area between the 303 Main St. building and the outdoor track. Designed by Stephen Blatt Architects to seat 500, the plan could be expanded to fit 700. Detailed information on the project can be found at

A new PAC building committee will include Blatt, members of the SAD 51 Board of Directors, SAD 51 Finance Director Scott Poulin, a staff member and two community members, a student and a parent.

After voters last month approved a concept design for the PAC, the committee will plan to work with Blatt through March 2017 to develop a more detailed plan, Porter said. SAD 51 will reach out to construction companies around that point.

“Our goal is to have broken ground in either late spring or early summer (of 2017),” Porter said.

Soil testing, currently taking place around the site, is “going well,” the superintendent noted.

Meanwhile, a fundraising effort, helmed by Community Development & Resource Manager Ashley Caswell, is underway. The campaign could allow people to purchase and personalize seats and bricks for a walkway leading up to the building.

“Those tend to be pretty popular,” Porter said, noting that the as-yet-undetermined prices “will be reasonable, and we’re hoping we get a lot of interest on those two things, because it will offset some of the expense that we’ve got.”

Debt for the PAC would be tiered over three years, to minimize the expense as existing debt is retired. Interest-only payments would come in 2019 and 2020, followed by peak interest and principal payments the next year.

The impact of the increase on the tax bill for a $300,000 home would be $9 in Cumberland and $12 in North Yarmouth in 2019 and 2020, and then $69 in Cumberland and $84 in North Yarmouth in 2021.

The difference reflects the property valuation in each community. Cumberland has a larger commercial tax base and, as a result, more property value; the greater the valuation in a community, the less impact there is on the tax rate, Poulin has said.

Annual PAC bond debt, to be partly offset by refinancing Greely High bonds from a prior project, would be as much as $777,500 in 2021, dropping to $507,500 by 2039, while debt service on other projects would be retired, according to Poulin.

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

Ground could break next late spring or early summer on a performing arts center at Greely High School in Cumberland.

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.