BATH — With Regional School Unit 1 scheduled in 2021 to return the current Morse High School building to the city, Bath officials want public input on the best use of the nearly century-old structure.

A meeting on redevelopment of the 826 High St. building will be held in the City Hall auditorium at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 20.

Following months of site work by Crooker Construction, Harvey Construction of Bedford, New Hampshire, has begun building what will be a three-story, nearly 186,000-square-foot new high school at the Wing Farm Business Park.

The school, which will include the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center, will be built for a population of 650, have two gyms and two athletic fields, and an enhanced theater. Access will be from a reconfigured Anchor Road.

RSU 1 voters in November 2017 approved a construction bond by a 3-1 margin. The state is funding $67.4 million of the $75.3 million cost; $7.2 million is to be paid locally through borrowing, with $700,000 earmarked from fundraising.

The building is due to ready for occupancy by December 2020. Morse students would begin the 2020-2021 school year in the existing High Street school, and then move to the new building after Christmas break. The older building, the original section of which was completed in 1929, would then revert to the city.

School properties are city-owned, but are operated and maintained by the school district while it occupies those buildings, City Manager Peter Owen said June 6. Once the district moves out, the properties go back to the city.

The former E.L. Huse Memorial School on Andrews Road is an example of that arrangement. The RSU 1 central office occupied the 1941 structure until moving to Wing Farm Parkway in 2010. The city took possession and sold it to the Szanton Co. to develop into apartments.

Attention now turns to the old Morse, which Owen called “a source of passion and pride for many locals” in a press release. “When the city takes ownership of the property we want to be ready with a plan, and we want to give the people who called Morse ‘home’ the opportunity to have input into that plan.”

“We don’t want to see that property just remain vacant for a long period of time,” Owen added last week, noting that six years passed in Augusta between the closure of Cony High School and launching a new use.

“It’s very expensive to have to heat and maintain a building that has no occupancy,” he said.

City staff met with Bath’s Community Development and Economic Development committees to discuss possible concepts.

“There is certainly interest in seeing residential properties put in there,” Owen said, noting that given the fact that the police and fire departments operate in aging facilities, perhaps the building could provide a future home for them, too.

“That’s a pretty big campus,” he noted, adding that multiple uses could include office space, residential units, or city departments.

According to the city assessor’s online database – updated most recently in 2016 – the building sits on 4.41 acres and has a combined land and building value of $13.8 million.

Those who cannot attend the June 20 meeting and want more information can log onto cityofbath.com/planning or contact Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers at [email protected] or 443-8330.

Following next week’s meeting, the city will issue a request for proposals for a project consultant to explore the most feasible options, “and try to hone down what is likely to be a good fit for that site,” Owen said.

The public will have additional opportunities to provide feedback along the way, he said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A meeting at Bath City Hall on Thursday, June 20, will seek input on best uses for the current Morse High School after the 90-year-old structure reverts to the city in 2021.

Construction of a new Morse High School continues at the Wing Farm Business Park in Bath.