Proponents of new school invite public to tour ailing Scarborough building

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SCARBOROUGH — After a plan to replace the ailing Wentworth School building failed at the ballot in 2006, some people blamed the high price and a lack of communication.

This time around, the Wentworth Building Committee is determined not to make the same mistakes.

On Saturday, members of the committee will take anyone who is interested on a tour of the school building, which has made headlines recently for asbestos in windows and mold in underground tunnels.

“This Saturday is just about getting people familiar with the old school and answering questions about why we’re proposing to build a new school,” committee Chairman Paul Koziell said.

Koziell will lead the tour, along with some of the other 41 committee members, in three parts. He’ll begin with a presentation of the plan to demolish the old building and build a new one, move into a question-and-answer session, then offer a tour of the existing school.

“The idea is just to reach out to as many people as possible,” Koziell said.

Koziell, who is a parent, attorney and part owner of CPM Construction in Freeport, said he is relieved the Town Council came to a consensus about demolishing the old school instead of keeping a small part of it for the town’s community programs.

“It was an important issue to address and I’m glad we did our due diligence. It opened up a huge dialog on the issue,” he said.

Ultimately, six of the seven councilors concluded keeping part of the building would put the whole project at risk of failure at the ballot box, something none of them said they wanted to happen again. Council Chairwoman Judy Roy was the only one who opposed the decision, favoring instead to keep a section of the building for use by community programs.

However, now that the issue has been put aside, Koziell said the committee is focused on putting together a-cost effective plan for the new school.

“The committee is just outstanding and has put a lot of time and energy into this. I expect that energy will continue through the election in November and through the construction project,” Koziell said.

The full committee will come together on May 13 to begin planning what the new school will look like and working with the architect, Harriman Associates of Portland, to develop cost estimates to present to the School Board and council.

Koziell said he hopes to have council approval by mid-summer. The project is on track to go before voters in bond referendum in November.

“We expect to have students walking through the door in the fall of 2014,” Koziell said.

Saturday’s tour begins at 10 a.m. in the Wentworth School library, and should last approximately an hour.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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