Horace Cousens Memorial School, located on Route 35 in the Town of Lyman, was built during the Depression years between 1936-37 as a tribute to Horace Cousens, a Lyman native and successful businessman during the mid-1800s.

Cousens Memorial School has been a focal point for many residents and travelers alike for over 80 years as they enter Goodwins Mills from Route 111.

Unfortunately, time has taken its toll on this beautiful landmark. In recent years, Lyman Select Boards worked extensively to rehabilitate the school. The old, worn out asphalt shingled roof was replaced, Federal Grants were obtained to remediate mold and asbestos and new windows and drainage was installed.

Approximately three years ago, former Lyman Select Boards floated a financing question not once, but two times before the Lyman voters to fund an extensive building rehabilitation. The question passed twice to fund the project, but the renovation quotes received by the Boards only after the votes were counted, came in above the approved dollar amounts, hence the renovation plans were scrapped and the taxpayers were left on the hook for a $128,000 Engineering Study with the Town receiving nothing in return!

As a result, in the November 2018 Election, the current Lyman Board of Selectmen asked the Town voters via a ballot question if they would like to sell Cousens Memorial School. The Vote results; around 1500 Yeas and 500 Nays. Only one problem, unlike many other questions put forth to the voters on that day, there was NO detail given regarding this question.

The proof is in the pudding. What the current Board failed to mention on the School question was that the proposal to renovate Cousens Memorial School would have run approximately $2.2 million. However, the price tag to renovate and expand the current Town Hall to meet future needs will run upwards of $3 million!

Sadly, Cousens Memorial School was put up for sale recently for an asking price of $340,000. The sale will include the 10,000 square foot, brick and mortar structure which has stood the test of time, including surviving the historically infamous Fire of 1947, along with seven acres of prime property which is home to the Denise Bernier Memorial Little League field. Once this property and historic structure is sold, it may be lost as a Town resource forever.

There are still many unanswered questions. Would the outcome of the November vote on the School have been different if the financial details had been disclosed to the Voters? Was the ballot question presented without detail to fulfill a hidden agenda? What will the Sale proceeds be used for? When will the Powers to be ask the voters to fund renovations on current Town Hall?

As we move into the future, one thing is for certain, as Lyman grows, the current Town Hall space will become outdated and inadequate. The price to build a new Town Hall will well exceed the Cousens Memorial School renovation figures.

Looking back someday, saving Cousens Memorial School for future generations would definitely have been the best deal on the block!

Lee Schatz