Scarborough is zeroing in on two parcels at The Downs for a K-3 school. Outlined in pink are the two parcels and in red is the border of The Downs development. Contributed / Town of Scarborough

A new Scarborough consolidated K-3 school could be located near the old racetrack at The Downs.

The school building committee has identified two parcels within the development totaling 25 acres. The school would be built on the larger parcel, between the outer loop of the former harness racing track and Sawyer Road. The smaller parcel, mainly for stormwater management, is between the outer and inner tracks.

The Town Council voted 5-2 Wednesday to permit Town Manager Tom Hall to sign a letter of intent to purchase the land from The Downs developers. The letter of intent does not require the town to follow through on a deal but is the next step toward negotiating a sale price.

“This does send a message to the developers that we are planning to work in partnership and earnest with them as we move forward,” Council Chairperson Jon Anderson said.

Outlined in red is the approximate location of the land at The Downs the town is considering for its new school. The cluster of buildings below the parcel is the downtown portion of the development. Contributed / Town of Scarborough

The proposed consolidated K-3 school would replace the town’s three K-2 schools. Overcrowding has become an issue for the school district, which has 30 portable classrooms in use, and a new school is intended to alleviate space problems.

In order to get the school project on the November ballot, the building site and designs have to be in line by Aug. 16.


“Without anything like this, we don’t have any legal authority to do the proper due diligence,” Hall told the council. “Certainly weeks matter, days might even matter at this point to be able to do the work that needs to be done within the timeframe that we’re working.”

Councilors Don Hamill and Nick McGee voted against the letter of intent, saying they are uncomfortable with the unknowns about the project and the land when the town is roughly 90 days from its deadline to submit a proposal for the ballot.

“I’ve really struggled with making sense of this, and the more time I’ve spent on it, it just hasn’t been really coming clear to me,” Hamill said. “We’ll never get there going at it this way.”

“There are a lot of moving parts,” McGee said. “To be backed into a corner with a timeframe so tight, how’s anyone really comfortable?”

The five councilors voting in favor said they felt relatively comfortable issuing a letter of intent, given that it is mostly nonbinding and that time is of the essence.

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