THE GYMNASIUM, the structure on the left, will have a new main entrance at the rear opposite Route 196. There will be parking beside and behind the new gym incorporating the former practice football field area.

THE GYMNASIUM, the structure on the left, will have a new main entrance at the rear opposite Route 196. There will be parking beside and behind the new gym incorporating the former practice football field area.

LISBON

If you build it, they will come. In fact, they may before you even get the foundation poured.

Such is the case in Lisbon, where before the gymnasium addition has risen from much beyond ground level, inquiries to utilize the space are already coming in from community groups, said Superintendent Richard Green.

In June 2014, Lisbon residents voted 953-901 to authorize the town to issue up to $5.7 million in bonds to fund construction of a new gymnasium and related improvements at Lisbon High School. It was a project that had been discussed for more than 30 years before school officials decided to ask voters for the bond.

The school was placed on probation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges following its last visit, which drew criticism of the facilities and particularly the gym. School officials believe the high school will be in good shape when NEASC does a site visit in November.

A new gymnasium, which will be an addition onto the existing gym, should be completed in September, Green said. The gym will have a tournament-sized basketball court and two practice courts at least the size of what currently exists. The larger court should not only help student basketball players prepare for tournaments, but it means the high school could host the Mountain Valley Conference.

Already requests are coming in from local groups in town and others who would like to use the facility, Green said, which will be open to the public. The school is not taking reservations, but he noted it already has a facility use policy in place. There is a fee system for facility use depending on day, time of day and period of use — and whether a staff member has to be paid to open and close the building.

The lockers below the old gym will be redone, Green said, and new ones built. Not part of the project funded by the $5.7 million bond, the long-term plan is to turn the old gym into a performing arts center.

“We would hope that when we do have the capacity to turn it into a performing arts center, we can get some sort of grant,” Green said, noting that a grant would help fund that transformation.

The gymnasium project broke ground Jan. 3, so this marks the ninth week of construction, the superintendent said Tuesday. The snow hasn’t caused delays because the builder was prepared for winter construction and the workers have been able to get a lot of internal work completed. Contractors are pouring the foundation now, Green said, which is a four- to sixweek process. He’s been told once that is done, big changes will start to become visible.

It is anticipated the project will be done by late September and — while perhaps wishful thinking — Green said there has been talk about efforts to get the addition portion of the gym completed to a point that an occupancy permit can be granted so graduation may take place at the high school. For many years, the graduation ceremony has taken place off-site, usually at the armory in Lewiston, because the school doesn’t have adequate space to accommodate the event.

That is soon to change. One of the selling points, Green said, was that school officials felt the gym project could generate additional revenue as a place to host events, whether it is a basketball championship or large-scale Maine food shows.

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