YARMOUTH – When town voters go to the polls next year, they’ll be asked to consider borrowing as much as $7 million to replace the Public Works Department garage and the artificial turf athletic field at Yarmouth High School.

Both are in bad shape, according to Town Manager Nat Tupper, and the Town Council is taking steps now to develop proposals that will win voters’ support in 2012.

The 1950s cinder block and metal garage on North Road is too small and outdated to meet modern needs, which now include the maintenance of school buses. And at the high school, which won boys’ soccer and football Class C titles last year, the 10-year-old artificial turf is worn to the point that it requires regular patching.

“It’s hardly sufficient for state championship teams,” Tupper said. “And the garage is an old building that we’ve outgrown and doesn’t meet standards for operational and energy efficiency, air quality and environmental safety.”

The new spending would come at an opportune time, Tupper said. The town will pay off two 20-year-old construction bonds this year — one for Harrison Middle School and the other for the upgraded sewage treatment plant — freeing up more than $800,000 annually that’s now dedicated to debt service.

Town officials are preparing for a June 2012 referendum that would ask voters to approve borrowing $4.8 million for a new Public Works garage on the same site. A November 2012 referendum would ask voters to approve borrowing $1.8 million to $2.9 million for a new turf field and a range of possible amenities.

“We were hoping that the field would last longer,” Tupper said, “but now that we have a football program, it’s getting a lot more intensive use.”

The council agreed Thursday to establish a nine-member advisory panel, including School Committee representatives, to review design and cost options for a new field, make construction and financing recommendations and offer future use and maintenance strategies.

Drainage, fencing and lighting improvements at the field would add more than $500,000 to the base cost of $1.8 million, which includes resurfacing the track and other improvements, Tupper said. Other improvements, such as bleachers, lockers, bathrooms, storage and a concession stand, would push the cost higher.

Last month, the council agreed to spend $100,000 on additional engineering and architectural design work for a new Public Works garage. To build a larger garage, the town would have to use one of three baseball fields next to the existing garage.

Before construction began, Tupper said, the town would build a fourth baseball field so its stellar Little League program wouldn’t be affected by the garage project. A Yarmouth team won the 2011 Maine State Championship for 11- and 12-year-old boys.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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