SCARBOROUGH — The Town Council on Wednesday night authorized an extra $85,000 to cover potential cost overruns for the construction of the new Higgins Beach bathhouse.

Additional costs could be seen if the town decides to make a few upgrades, including cement siding and solar panels, Town Manager Tom Hall said.

The lowest bid for the project came in at more than $301,000, up from original estimates of $288,000. About $35,000 of the 2013 capital improvement budget amount for the bath house has already been used for previous improvement projects, Hall said. 

“Contingency is wise,” he said. “Let’s hope we don’t have to use it.”

The bathhouse will be built near the Ocean Avenue public parking lot and would include changing rooms, bathrooms and an exterior rinse-off area. It would be open year-round to cater to the off-season demand from surfers and would be funded by a reserve account for beach projects.

The money for the project will likely have little impact on tax dollars, as the majority of the funding can come from revenues produced by other town beaches, Hall said.

A town-owned cottage where the bathhouse is to be built was planned to be demolished, but was saved by a resident who said he will move the building to his property, Hall said.

In other business, the council authorized the town manager to transfer 26 acres of town-owned land to the Scarborough Land Trust. An additional 11 acres of wetland and upland will be protected with a conservation easement held by the trust to compensate for the impact on wetlands from the Wentworth Intermediate School construction project.

Town officials worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Maine Department of Environmental Protection in the permitting process and developed the arrangement to permanently protect the town-owned land adjacent to the Wiley athletic fields.

The 11-acre area will remain under town ownership, but development will be restricted and the land will be stewarded by the land trust.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraf[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff.

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