North Yarmouth hopes to borrow $3.4M to rebuild Wescustogo Hall

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A $3.43 million bond to rebuild Wescustogo Hall and renovate a partly demolished North Yarmouth Memorial School will go to voters June 12.

In the meantime, community forums on the project are planned at the former school, 120 Memorial Highway (Route 9), at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12; 10 a.m. Saturday, April 14; and 7 p.m. Thursday, May 10. A Select Board public hearing on the bond warrant is being held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 15.

The board voted 3-1 April 3, with Vice Chairwoman Jeanne Chadbourne opposed, to place the bond on the June warrant.

Select Board members heard April 3 from some residents who felt the back wing of NYMS should be preserved for future town needs, such as a relocated fire station and historical society.

“If tearing down NYMS and building Wescustogo are linked together, we’re not going to know what people’s votes meant,” Dixie Hayes said. A person voting against the project might actually favor Wescustogo being rebuilt, but oppose parts of NYMS being torn down, she added.

“You can’t really vote for what you want, the way the warrants have been written,” Chadbourne said, adding that the ballot language “is not clear, and people are not going to know what they’re voting for; I don’t think they will.”

Portland-based design and construction company Barrett Made has worked for months with the partial NYMS demolition in mind, Select Board member Steve Morrison said. If he could turn the clock back to 2013, he would have supported a plan for rehabilitating the whole building to house the town’s needs, he added.

Saving the 15,000-square-foot rear wing would take up room proposed for future parking, and require redesigns, adding to the project’s expenses, Morrison said.

Select Board Chairwoman Jennifer Spiers noted that in order to put the question on the June ballot in time, the Select Board had to sign the warrant that night.

“Ballots will be printed this week,” she said. “So we’re sort of out of time to make substantial changes to this plan.”

The total project cost of $3.67 million would be offset by nearly $431,000 in insurance funds remaining from the original Wescustogo Hall. A 7 percent additional contingency of about $224,000 is included in the bond amount.

The project also has a fundraising goal of $250,000.

With $1.34 million in interest – a maximum rate of 4.3 percent – added to the $3.43 million principal, the total debt service over the 20-year bond would be $4.77 million.

Fire destroyed the former Route 115 Grange in 2013. Parking limitations at that site, which neighbors the Village Green, largely led town officials to eye the former NYMS property – which School Administrative District 51 closed and transferred to the town in 2014 – as an alternate location.

Barrett Made has been working with the Wescustogo Building and Design Committee to design a community center composed of a partly-demolished NYMS, and a new Wescustogo connected through a lobby, viewable from the corner of Memorial Highway (Route 9) and Parsonage Road.

A 3D animated presentation that takes the viewer through the exterior and interior of the complex is posted at https://bit.ly/2v2ovW8.

The town would demolish the front and back wings of the 42-year-old school building, and preserve and renovate the stage, gym, kitchen and hallway areas. The backstage area would be converted to a community room, and the hallway running alongside the gym would be refurbished and opened up with new windows.

Entry to the building would be through a 1,500-square-foot lobby. The new Wescustogo would be about 4,350 square feet and fit about 300 people, and could be divided into three distinct areas via sliding partitions to facilitate separate activities at the same time.

The entire complex would measure about 17,000 square feet, including the two connected structures and nearly 4,900 square feet of circulation and support spaces.

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

A 20-year bond for reconstruction of Wescustogo Hall and a pared-down and renovated North Yarmouth Memorial School goes to town voters June 12.

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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.