North Yarmouth selectmen to get more Wescustogo details

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NORTH YARMOUTH — With the design and development phase of a new Wescustogo Hall underway, planners will present a progress report to the Board of Selectmen next month.

Input from two community forums – the first held Feb. 16, and the second to take place at the former North Yarmouth Memorial School at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9 – will influence the report due March 21.

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

The panel also authorized the Wescustogo Hall Building and Design Committee to continue its work, with an eye toward reducing costs for the proposed structure.

Log on to northyarmouth.org/wescustogo-building-and-design-committee for more information.

“This is a community investment project,” committee Chairman Brian Sites said at last week’s meeting. “It’s a place where we can come together as a community and be entertained, and interact, and be political, and be engaged. … It’s where different generations can connect.”

Portland design and build 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.

Design and development could run through May, according to Sites.

“We don’t really know what the process is after that, but we’re hoping to have some sort of action going forward in the fall,” he said.

More specific costs of the different components of the building are expected later this year, according to Matt Ahlberg, a North Yarmouth resident who is director of design services for Barrett Made. A target budget will be discussed at the March 21 selectmen’s meeting.

“In June (or) July we’d be looking to complete 75 percent of the construction documents, so we can really get a hard construction cost on the project,” Ahlberg said.

The new, single-floor Wescustogo Hall, including a lobby, could be 7,800 square feet, while the remaining NYMS gym, stage and kitchen area would be 9,800 square feet, Ahlberg explained. The parking area, totalling nearly 33,000 square feet, would be moved behind the building, allowing for restoration of green space between the structure and Route 9.

North Yarmouth’s ad hoc Town Hall Renovation Committee recently recommended that the building be rebuilt at the NYMS site. Acknowledging that the matter is not part of Barrett Made’s charge, resident Steve Palmer asked Ahlberg that “whatever is designed doesn’t impact or inhibit the potential for construction for a town office on this site.”

A large area of buildable space would remain to the northeast of the Wescustogo/NYMS complex, so a town office could share parking and other resources, and be highly visible from the road, Ahlberg said.

Noting that the cost of the project remains undetermined as the effort takes shape, Sites said his committee has looked at $3.5 million as the cost ceiling. The town has about $560,000 in insurance money from the original Wescustogo to put toward the project.

The committee also plans to offset expenses through fundraising, Sites said.

“We’re hoping to have more detail come March 9,” the date of the second community meeting, he added.

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

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

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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.