Cumberland-North Yarmouth school arts center could go to November vote

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CUMBERLAND — Construction of a performing arts center at Greely High School could go to referendum in November.

After receiving School Board support April 11, School Administrative District 51 will hire an architect to conduct a project study. Funds for the work will come from the Cumberland-North Yarmouth district’s capital reserve account.

The center could be added to the rear of the high school, a leveled-off area between the school and its running track. A concept design with cost estimates will come out of that study, Superintendent Jeff Porter and Finance Director Scott Poulin said in an interview April 27.

While community members said they support a seating capacity of between 300 and 1,000 seats, “I suspect it’ll be somewhere in the middle,” Porter said.

He added that the facility will not be “extravagant,” but would have enough space to meet school and community needs.

“I envision it being used constantly,” the superintendent said.

The SAD 51 Board of Directors may not decide until September whether to put the project to a referendum vote, Porter said.

“If they do, the first target date will be possibly November,” he said, on the same date as the general election.

While the project is in its infancy, hiring the architect “is an important step, because the board is taking it seriously enough to bring it to this point,” he said.

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

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.