Letter: Vote for the SPHS renovation

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Why vote for South Portland High School renovations?

Available locations? Even with poor soils, ledge present, and the DEP requiring the site and Recreation Center to have storm water treatment, the current site is the most favored location.

Reuse of old building? SPHS’s proposal keeps the auditorium, gymnasium and entry. These are remote and decrease the building’s efficiency. Without these, you’d have a tighter building, though the costs of demolishing and rebuilding would be higher than efficiency savings, not to mention the value added for responding to residents’ wishes.

Improvements along the way? Significant improvements trigger the need to meet code requirements, for handicap accessibility or resolving structural, mechanical, or electrical deficiencies. SPHS needed comprehensive remodeling and didn’t spend money for work that would be replaced.

State help? Maine has limited funding ($100 million). Of the estimated $1 billion of need for school projects, a tiny fraction will receive funding.

A waste of $27 million? If SPHS provides 300 square feet per student, and you remove 100 square feet per student, multiply by the cost per square foot, you’ll save $27M? This is nonsensical for construction projects. As noted, soils and non-efficient circulation increase costs. Even if you reduced the size, these conditions create a non-linear square foot/dollar correlation.

Days of paying increased property taxes over? Lisbon High School was put on academic probation. Property values fell, infrastructure costs remained, and property taxes increased accordingly. Improve the building where our children learn and allow them a transcript without an academic probation.

Catherine Taylor
South Portland