BATH

Regional School Unit 1 is looking to buy an option on Wing Farm property to potentially build the new Morse High School on.

Wing Farm is currently owned by the city of Bath. The option agreement that RSU 1 is pursuing would reserve the district’s right to buy the property at a future date once it has gained approval from the Maine Board of Education and made certain that the site is suitable. The option is the first step in the years-long process of approving and building a new high school.

While the city council held an executive session on the Wing Farm proposal on Sept. 7, no actions were taken. It is unlikely that any action will take place prior to appraisals being completed on that property and the middle school property, which was also under consideration for the new high school.

RSU 1 has opted to pursue the Wing Farm site largely due to federal land and water conservation issues that were raised at the middle school site. Dealing with the conservation regulations on that site would take additional time and money, pushing the district toward the Wing Farm site.

“We’ve been looking at Wing Farm and the middle school as two viable sites, and felt with our architectural firm that building at Wing Farm was to be prioritized over the middle school site,” said Patrick Manuel, RSU 1 superintendent.

If the city grants the option and RSU 1 decides to build the new school there, the new Morse High School would be open in January 2020, according to a tentative schedule. There are, however, several steps that need to be taken before then. Manuel said that he hopes that a bond issue referendum will be brought to voters in June 2017.

Manuel stressed that the option agreement is nonbinding. While it allows the district to move forward with the process of getting the school approved, the school can back out if new information or options come to light.

“(The option) doesn’t bind us, it allows us to do some things on the site — to basically research it and look for certain things, and make sure it’s going to be the right fit for a new school,” said Manuel. “But it’s not set in stone.”

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Timeline

IF THE CITY of Bath grants the option on the Wing Farm property and RSU 1 decides to build there, the new Morse High School would be open in January of 2020, according to a tentative schedule.

PATRICK MANUEL, RSU 1 superintendent, said that he hopes that a bond issue referendum will be brought to voters in June 2017.



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