Gym, classrooms top Topsham school design poll

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TOPSHAM — Additional gymnasium and classroom space are among the top candidates for local funding in the proposal to replace Mt. Ararat High School.

PDT Architects tallied the results of polls conducted at meetings last month in each of the four School Administrative District 75 towns. Participants were presented with lists of items to be considered for either local funding or fundraising, along with the estimated cost for each.

If all the proposed items are included in a locally funded project, they could add up to roughly $8 million. The proposed add-ons would be above and beyond elements the state would fund, which is between $50 million and $60 million, Lyndon Keck of PDT has said.

The poll results, discussed at a Nov. 2 Building Committee meeting, were split into “Local Funding,” “Fundraising” and “Do Not Include” (in school construction) categories.

The elements that received the most votes for local funding were additional gym space ($1.7 million), seven more general classrooms ($1.7 million), an additional science classroom ($289,000), solar hot water ($48,000) and a snow melt system at major entrances ($60,500).

The additional gym and classroom space would bring those areas more in line with space allocations in the current school, Smith said in an interview Nov. 11.

The Building Committee was scheduled to present those items, plus several others members have chosen, in a recommendation to the SAD 75 Board of Directors Thursday, Nov. 17.

The other items include a synthetic turf athletic field ($939,000), a geothermal/geo-exchange system ($665,500), and 72 additional parking spaces at the athletic field ($418,000).

Those elements total $6.8 million that would be funded locally; the state will contribute to a few of those costs. For every $1 million in projects not funded by the state, a typical homeowner would pay about $5 a year across the four towns, SAD 75 Superintendent Brad Smith has said.

Elements that the Building Committee is recommending for fundraising, according to poll results, include an athletic field scoreboard ($48,000), a second scoreboard at an accessory gym ($18,000), a baseball field scoreboard ($36,000), and an indoor ropes course ($18,000) – a total of $121,000.

Items that will likely not be included at the new school, as advised by the poll, included an additional 100 fixed seats for the school’s gathering area ($339,000) and four student study alcoves ($224,000).

Along with the School Board potentially approving the Building Committee’s recommendations “in concept” Nov. 17, the panel was also to set a date for a straw poll – on the school’s building design – for sometime next month.

In the meantime, SAD 75 and PDT will work with the state Department of Education to finalize the design and the accompanying cost. The School Board may vote on the final design Dec. 8.

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

Lyndon Keck of PDT Architects, the firm designing a new high school in Topsham for School Administrative District 75, presented a plan for the building during a public forum in Bowdoinham Oct. 11.

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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.