Work on new Morse High School could begin next June

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BATH — Officials have developed a schedule for construction of the new Morse High School.

Site planning is due to conclude next March, work on the property is expected to begin in June, and construction of the building will begin in spring 2019.

Regional School Unit 1 voters on Nov. 7 approved the construction bond for a new school by a 3-1 margin.

The state will fund $67.4 million of the $75.3 million cost; $7.2 million will be paid locally through borrowing, with $700,000 earmarked from fundraising. The building, to be built north of the Wing Farm business park, will replace the nearly 90-year-old Morse school at 826 High St.

Ron Lamarre of Lavallee Brensinger Architects, the Manchester, New Hampshire, company RSU 1 hired to provide architectural and engineering services, said it will be a busy 20 months before the new school’s projected opening in August 2020.

“We’re going to finish the site planning by March of 2018, and bid out the site work in May of 2018,” he said in an interview Nov. 17.

Construction on the site itself – building a parking lot and a road from Congress Avenue, blasting ledge, and bringing in water and electricity – is to begin in June 2018. Building design will continue through the year, and wrap up in December. Work on the structure is to begin the following April or May.

Some RSU 1 residents at a September meeting criticized the building’s facade design as “terrible” and penitentiary-like. Lamarre said the design continues to be tweaked; the latest proposal was expected to be presented at an RSU 1 Building Committee meeting Thursday, Nov. 30.

“It’s a work in progress, and I think it’ll get better as we move along,” Lamarre said.

The school – which will also house the Bath Regional Career & Technical Center – will be accessed via Anchor Road, off Congress Avenue, with emergency access only from Wing Farm Parkway.

The planned three-story building is to be nearly 186,000 square feet, a bit larger than the school and separate BRCTC combined. Morse has a population of 615, and the new school would be built for 650.

More information can be found through the Morse-BRCTC Building Project link at rsu1.org.

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

Site construction for a new Morse High School in Bath could begin next June, with work on the building itself to begin about a year later.

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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.