North Yarmouth school reuse may go to April 11 Town Meeting

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

NORTH YARMOUTH — Residents may decide at Town Meeting Saturday, April 11, whether to redevelop North Yarmouth Memorial School as a municipal and community campus.

The proposal, recommended by the Board of Selectmen, has been the focus of a series of public informational meetings, the final two of which have been scheduled to be held in the Town Hall meeting room at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24.

“If those (last two) public hearings give us enough information to press forward, and (residents) feel comfortable with the recommendation that we’ve made, and the community is eager to pursue it, then April 11 is a very foreseeable date for us to be working towards,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve Palmer told the audience at the March 10 meeting.

If the recommendation lacks support, town officials may need to “pull back and figure out what the next move is,” he added.

Two of the three scenarios Portland firm Planning Decisions proposed last November involved developing the school, which School Administrative District 51 closed last year and transferred to the town. The third proposed the campus be located at the current Town Hall.

Of the two school building options, one called for renovating the facility, while the other suggested demolishing it and building something new.

Selectmen voted 4-1 Feb. 3, with Paul Napolitano opposed, to move forward with the reuse option. North Yarmouth would sell the existing Town Hall for housing or commercial development, and a municipal sewer system would be created to help facilitate new development in accordance with the town’s 2003 Comprehensive Plan.

That system would run from the school’s existing system into the center of town, comprising almost 3,000 feet of piping, Milan Nevajda of Planning Decisions has said.

According to a facilities study conducted by Stephen Blatt Architects, that option would be the least expensive of the three, and potentially cost $2.67 million.

That expense would include $1.4 million to renovate the former school as a town hall, $650,000 to renovate the gym as a community center, and $70,000 to demolish the rest of the building. About 14,800 square feet at the rear of the existing building would be unused; 12,500 of that could be rented, if not demolished.

The new town hall and community center would total 24,000 square feet.

Using the existing school has several benefits, such as continued use of its gym, food service area, playground and field, while selling the existing Town Hall could spur commercial activity and provide funding for development projects, Selectman Mark Girard noted.

Expansion of North Yarmouth’s tax base through stimulation of development and reducing town-owned land is one rationale for the selectmen’s recommendation, Palmer explained. Other goals include the creation of housing and an attractive, visible and vibrant town center, as well as the building density that would spur commercial development.

Should voters approve the Board of Selectmen’s recommendation, design and engineering of the school could run six months at a cost of about $237,000. The first phase of engineering and design of the sewer system could take three months and cost $70,000, Girard said.

The town would request proposals concerning the sale and development of the Town Hall property, which could take about six months. The property is estimated to bring the town $510,000.

“We’re the owner, we’re the seller; we have the ability to be in the driver’s seat during that (Request for Proposals) process,” Girard said.

The first phase of bidding and construction of the sewer system could cost $440,000 and run four months.

“The timelines on these are very approximate,” Girard noted.

Renovation of the school, including bidding and construction, could cost $2.4 million and take eight months to complete. That work, combined with the prior design and engineering, adds up to $2.67 million.

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

Sidebar Elements

North Yarmouth residents may decide April 11 whether to redevelop North Yarmouth Memorial School as a municipal and community campus.

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.