North Yarmouth focus shifts to Wescustogo construction

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NORTH YARMOUTH — The Wescustogo Hall rebuilding project is narrowing its focus from design development to construction detailing.

“Leading up to January, we were basically looking at forms – how does the (building) fit on the land, how big it’s going to be,” Wescustogo Hall Building and Design Committee Chairman Brian Sites said in an interview Monday. “Now what we’re looking at is really digging into the details.”

Engineering comprises the bulk of the current work. “Understanding what systems are in place, how that might impact the design,” Sites noted as an example.

That part of the process will help determine whether the building will be “net zero” in terms of efficiency, and what maintenance and operation costs could be. That’s important, Sites pointed out, since “we’re literally looking out 50 years and saying, how do we want this building to perform over time, how can we make it economical and affordable over time.”

“Because it is going to be a large expenditure of funds,” he added. “And we want to mitigate that as much as possible.”

Sites’ panel has developed a fundraising subcommittee to help offset costs to the town, and grants are also being explored.

The Board of Selectmen voted in January to focus the effort to rebuild Wescustogo Hall on the Route 9 site of the former North Yarmouth Memorial School – which School Administrative District 51 closed and transferred to the town in 2014 – as opposed to the Route 115 site where fire destroyed the original Wescustogo Hall in 2013.

Portland firm Barrett Made proposes demolishing much of the 1976 school building while preserving and renovating the stage, gym, and kitchen area. The new hall would be erected just south of the building, connect through a lobby, and face Route 9.

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The Wescustogo group has maintained its projected cost ceiling – for both the new building and renovation of the remaining NYMS space that will adjoin it – at $3.5 million.

“We’re working backwards from that number,” Sites explained, noting that North Yarmouth will not be asked to bond the full amount, as insurance proceeds from the original Wescustogo, as well as fundraising and grants, would be offsetting factors.

“At some point, we have to determine how much that bond is going to be, and that’s what the community will have to vote on,” Sites said.

His group will continue working through the spring. According to a project time line established in January by Barrett Made, development could wrap up next month, with construction detailing, mobilization and building possibly taking place over the next few seasons.

No voting on the matter is expected at next month’s Town Meeting, although an informational presentation might take place, Sites said. The project could ultimately go to a special Town Meeting or referendum for approval.

Sites would like a forum to be held, for which North Yarmouth’s seniors would be transported in, since “a big project like this impacts them,” he said, noting the senior center component of the future building.

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

This rendering shows how a new Wescustogo Hall might look from Route 9 in North Yarmouth.

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.