SAD 75 now faces nuts, bolts of building new high school

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TOPSHAM — After the approval by voters March 7 of a new Mt. Ararat High School, School Administrative District 75 now must find a contractor.

“We start really going through the fine details of how you’re going to actually build this, what kind of materials are you going to use,” Building Committee Chairman John Hodge said in an interview March 9. “We’ll start looking at furnishings, and beginning to think about what’s going to go into the building.”

The district will start working on the documents that contractors will use to submit bids, Hodge said, and aim to send the project out for bids in about a year.

After plans are approved by Topsham’s Planning Board, construction could begin in May or June 2018, he said. The project should take about two years, and SAD 75 could obtain its certificate of occupancy in summer 2020, with classes beginning that fall. 

The Building Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month at Mt. Ararat High School at 5:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend, offer comments and ask questions.

More information can be found at construction.link75.org.

The planned 153,000-square-foot building, slightly smaller than the current  school, is designed for 750 students – 721 is the projected enrollment for 2020 – with 40 classrooms, nine science rooms and a 17,000-square-foot gym, according to Lyndon Keck of PDT Architects, the school’s designers.

The new footprint will include 422 parking spaces and replace an open-plan school built in 1973 that largely lacks interior doors and walls.

Items to be funded locally include additional gym space, seven more general classrooms and an additional science classroom, all meant to bring those areas more in line with space allocations in the existing school.

Other elements include solar hot water and a geothermal/geo-exchange system.

Items that would be paid for through a local fundraising initiative include baseball dugouts, athletic field scoreboards, a gym ropes course, and an irrigation sprinkler system.

Voters in Topsham, Harpswell, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham on March 7 first were asked to approve the base project at an amount not to exceed $60 million, which includes $6.2 million for locally funded items that the state will not cover. The first proposal passed overwhelmingly, 1,773 to 392.

The second question, contingent on passage of the first, asked whether a $649,000 synthetic turf athletic field – to be composed of something other than crumb rubber, which has raised health concerns – should be added to the project. That question passed by a narrower margin, 1,246 to 914.

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

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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.