Poll supports new Bath-area high school at business park

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BATH — Approximately 100 residents of Regional School Unit 1 on Tuesday unanimously supported building a new Morse High School at the Wing Farm business park.

The show-of-hands vote was the first straw poll, and sixth step, a 21-part, state-mandated process necessary before the project is approved. A second straw vote must also be held on the building concept.

The district hopes to hold a referendum this fall on whether to build the school, RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said at Tuesday’s meeting at Bath Middle School. More information is available at sites.google.com/a/rsu1.org/morse-building-project.

If the project is approved, construction could begin in the summer of 2018, with the school opening the fall of 2020. That is also the planned opening date in nearby Topsham of a new Mt. Ararat High School, which was approved by referendum last month.

RSU 1 has proposed constructing its new high school – to replace the 1920s-era structure at 826 High St. – on a 26-acre parcel at the Wing Farm business park, off Congress Avenue. The City Council last October approved the district’s option to purchase the property for $277,500. RSU 1 must exercise the option by July 31.

RSU 1 also has options to buy two adjoining parcels that would create the only entrance to the school. One 1.5-acre property, at 2 Anchor Road, would bring in traffic from Congress Avenue, and a neighboring parcel of about 1.3 acres would extend Anchor Road to the school.

Wing Farm Parkway would not be used for school access, except in emergency situations.

The search for a property started at 77 parcels and was ultimately narrowed down to the site residents of RSU 1’s four communities – Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich – approved at Tuesday’s 30-minute meeting.

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

About 100 Regional School Unit 1 residents in a straw poll Tuesday approved building a new Morse High School above the Wing Farm business park in Bath.

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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.