Falmouth schools adding greenhouse, athletic storage

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FALMOUTH — Plans for an educational greenhouse near the School Department administrative offices are moving forward, with the initial phase of construction likely to begin near the end of the month.

Construction has also begun on a new, multi-sport athletic storage facility and locker rooms behind Falmouth Middle School, although that project is already over budget.

Dan O’Shea, School Department director of finance and operations, said the greenhouse subcommittee met a few times over the summer with outside consultants to discuss things like location, structures, connection to education, and how to integrate a greenhouse into the curriculum.

The first phase of the plan is to construct a hoop house, which is a tunnel-like structure made of polyethylene used to heat things inside the structure faster than heat can escape.

O’Shea said this will be built adjacent to the tennis courts on the side of Woodville Road opposite the schools. A master plan for the entire space, including additional structure gardens, is also being developed.

“The tentative goal is to try to have something constructed by the end of September or early October,” O’Shea said, adding that constructing the hoop house would only take a day.

The greenhouse is being paid for with a $40,000 grant from the Falmouth Education Foundation.

O’Shea said the second phase of the project will include expanding or renovating the existing gardens behind the middle school. Farther down the road, he said a third phase could be “looking at the potential for something closer to the high school.”

The School Board is expected to tour the site for the hoop house before its Sept. 8 workshop.

Storage facility

Located on the lower field adjacent to the softball field, the new storage facility will replace a trailer that stored football equipment. It will include a locker room and a meeting room.

O’Shea said site work began last week, and construction should be completed by the end of September. The building will be nearly 1,500 square feet, with wood siding and a metal roof.

The project, however, is running over budget. O’Shea said about $58,000 was budgeted, but the cost is already at $70,000 because an architect was needed and there were code compliance issues because the building will be occupied.

He said the School Department expects to have sufficient savings from summer capital projects to compensate for the overrun, and additional funds could come from the capital reserve budget.

The building will have electricity, but the only water source will be an outside spigot drinking and washing equipment. O’Shea said the football team is considering fundraising for open lockers in the locker room, which can hold 50.

In addition to football, the Nordic skiing team will use the facility for ski waxing in the winter. O’Shea said there are also possibilities for the space to be used in the spring by other teams, including lacrosse.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Two construction projects are in early stages on the Falmouth schools campus. The first phase of an educational greenhouse will begin near the end of the month, and a new, mulit-sport locker room should be completed by that time.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.