Cumberland-North Yarmouth board OKs school arts center study

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CUMBERLAND — The School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors voted 5-1 Monday to fund research of a proposed performing arts center.

Up to $75,000 for programming and schematic design work has been approved and will be taken from the Cumberland-North Yarmouth district’s capital reserve account. The board approved the study this spring, but Monday’s vote was to pay Stephen Blatt Architects for his work on drafting a concept design.

The center could be added to the rear of Greely High School, on a leveled-off area between the school at 303 Main St. school and the running track.

A concept design with cost estimates will come out of the study, due back to the School Board by early September in order for a project referendum to be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Board member Gigi Sanchez, who sits on the project’s Building Committee, said at Monday’s meeting that after much discussion, the committee has decided that the center should have 500 seats.

Sanchez said she continues to be impressed with everyone on the committee with approximately 15 members that includes representatives from both towns and performing arts staff.

If a referendum is successful, the $75,000 for the contract “gets credited against the fees for the whole construction document,” Finance Director Scott Poulin told the School Board.

Board member Kate Perrin, who voted against the contract, noted after the meeting that while she does not oppose the project, she feels that issues at other facilities in the district should be addressed first.

A concept design done roughly a decade ago fell through. The School Board heard another pitch for a performing arts center in January 2015, when a 30,000-square-foot, 500-seat, facility was proposed.

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

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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.