Scarborough council takes first look at $38M school proposal

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SCARBOROUGH — The estimated price tag for a geothermal heating and cooling system at a proposed new Wentworth Elementary School has dropped by about $200,000.

Paul Koziel, chairman of the Wentworth Committee, which has been advocating for replacement of the existing building, said the drop from about $3 million to $2.8 million is just one of many reduced estimates coming for the proposal.

Last week, the committee unveiled its first rough cost estimate – about $38 million – for the new school. The geothermal system would be an additional, optional item.

On Wednesday, the committee pitched it’s plan to town councilors, who will take the matter up for approval in the coming month.

Cliff Greim of Harriman Associates told councilors that the geothermal system would cost more to install than traditional mechanical heating – $40 per square foot as opposed to about $38 per square foot – but would cost less long term. Within nine years, he said, the system will have paid for itself.

Anne-Mayre Dexter, principal at Wentworth, told councilors that the 160,000-square-foot proposal is designed to accommodate a growing student population. Currently the school has 775 students, she said. The new school would accommodate up to 960.

“We’re looking at the long-term picture here,” she said. “This is going to be built to handle growth.”

Supporters of a new Wentworth hope to get a referendum on Novembers ballot, a second attempt to replace the building. An earlier plan was defeated by voters in 2006. They want council approval for their design sketch and budget as soon as possible so they can engage in an all-out “education campaign” to convince voters to approve a bond for the building.

Town Manager Tom Hall said staff is working on agenda language for next week’s council meeting that would give the committee a green light to move forward.

Mario Moretto cna be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow Mario on Twitter: @riocarmine.

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