FREEPORT — Plans for renovation of Freeport High School are moving forward with building additions, road and parking lot changes, and athletic field reconstruction.
The Project Review Board was expected to approve the final plans on Wednesday. A two-story addition of almost 30,000 square feet and other site alterations are proposed.
A $14.6 million bond to renovate the high school was passed by voters in November 2013. Regional School Unit 5 Chairman Nelson Larkins in March said once the project is approved, the architect will finalize the plan and put out a request for construction bids. He said construction is expected to start in October.
The renovation includes the removal of the high school’s existing industrial arts building. According to a staff report produced by Town Planner Donna Larson, “some smaller outbuildings will be relocated on the site.”
The addition, which will mostly be on the northwest side of the building, will house a kitchen, cafeteria, band room and several classrooms.
Another big part of the project will be to improve the flow of traffic for cars, buses and pedestrians. A proposed change is to create a one-way loop for student drop-offs and bus loading and unloading.
Some parts of the project need approval not only from the Project Review Board, but from the Town Council. RSU 5 is asking for a transfer of ownership for a portion of land near Snow Road, where the property line between the school district and the town is located. The RSU said it would grant an easement to the town so the public could still use Snow Road.
After receiving an explanation of the RSU’s request on July 7, councilors decided to vote on the transfer at their July 21 meeting.
If the council approves the request, the RSU also wants to build a sidewalk along the entire length of Snow Road and prohibit parking on the street. A new 87-space parking lot would be built off the road.
The RSU wants the parking lot to be 18 feet deep instead of 18.5 feet, which requires a waiver of the zoning ordinance. The RSU’s reasoning for this is that it would “reduce the amount of impervious area and reduce wetland impact,” according to Larson’s report.
The project also calls for a new crosswalk on Snow Road, which would lead people to a new building entrance on the north side of the new addition.
The project would also include reconstructing the athletic fields for improved drainage. According to Larson’s staff report, Town Engineer Albert Presgraves approved this change.