Scarborough High School. File photo

The Scarborough Town Council voted 6-1 to authorize the town manager to execute an option agreement with Crossroads Holdings for the purchase of land for a new school site location in their meeting on Aug. 2. However, the purchase failed to follow through.

The site, a 21.87-acre parcel within the Scarborough Downs development, would be intended as a location for a new unified K-3 primary school. The purchase price was $7.21M.

The authorization required the agreement to be executed by Aug. 9. Crossroads Holdings requested additional terms and agreements beyond the authority of the town manager, and as such the purchase could not be completed.

“The failure of not coming to terms on the agreement is not for lack of effort,” said Town Manager Tom Hall. “Both parties acted in good faith, the Town simply cannot agree to unfavorable terms.”

The search for a site for a new unified school has been ongoing since the beginning of the year. With Scarborough’s student population exceeding the capacity of the current primary schools, the process to build a new unified school has been underway by the school board, the School Building Steering Committee, the town council, and many consultants.

This action follows two of the council goals set earlier this year to support the school department and their search for a new school, as well as supporting municipal and school land.


There was some pushback against the purchase at the Aug. 2 meeting from concerned residents. One major issue was the impact the school would have on the area, specifically Trackview Terrace. An entrance to the school would be built that would affect this neighborhood, residents said.

“Our concern is that the land agreement between The Downs and the Town of Scarborough hinges on adding an entry point via Sawyer Road and Trackview Terrace,” said Megan and Zach, a couple that spoke during the meeting. “However, Trackview Terrace, where we live, is a privately owned dead end street and we were not part of any of these negotiations.”

Some residents spoke out during public comment to express concern over the cost of the parcel.

Other residents supported the purchase, focusing on the urgent need for a new school.

“I recognize the magnitude of this and I recognize what we are asking you to do tonight and I would not be standing in front of you advocating for this if I didn’t believe in my whole heart that this is what we need to do,” said Shannon Lindstrom, chair of the Scarborough School Board. “This project has not been fast moving. This project has been 10 years in the making. That’s 10 years of research. That’s 10 years of long term analysis. That’s 10years of expert consultation and insight. It has come together to make this solution. This plan represents the best investment educationally and financially for the Scarborough community.”

“Likewise, the site selection process that has led to the Downs site has been no small task. The Building Steering Committee was very, very intentional about building a process that pulled in insight and perspective from across the community. This was during many, many interactive community forums. And that combined the subject matter experts and our local leaders and our community members. We held over 30 meetings between February of 2022 and April of 2023. This was with all of the stakeholders in the community to evaluate sites. There was no foregone conclusion.”


Abigail Henry, a local parent of two children, said, “I’m here to provide enthusiastic support for town council to authorize our town manager to move forward with the proposed land acquisition related to the new school site. This is an idea whose time has come. Scarborough school leadership for years has been diligently vetting solutions with experts related to enrollment management, educational best practices, design and architecture, environmental impact, financial modeling, and collaborating with our very own community to determine that this new unified K-3 school project is the most prudent option. They have my trust and complete support.”

Council Chair Jon Anderson responded to some of the public comment during the meeting. “I totally hear the residents, especially those on Sawyer Road and Trackview Terrace that we have not done a good job communicating and engaging with you guys,” Anderson said. “And I think we will own that. That there is more we could be doing to communicate and involve you in the process.”

“… Unfortunately, and this is just my opinion, given the nature of this school and the magnitude of it, no matter where we put it there is going to be impact to the surrounding residents, to the surrounding neighbors,” he said. “I don’t think we would be in a different situation in a different site where we would have people around there who aren’t pleased with the impact something like this would bring to their neighborhood. … It’s not a decision I think any of us are taking lightly. I think we understand and sympathize with the impact it’s going to have to the immediate residents.”

Anderson also spoke about the town partnering with Crossroads Holdings and some residents’ concern over that.

“There’s a lot of feelings about this deal, and I think it honestly has less to do with the land for some people and more to do with the partner we’re engaging with,” Anderson said. “And I ask that people take a moment to think about their own personal transactions when you’re buying a house. There’s usually a seller and a buyer, and you have to find a compromise to come to a solution. The perception that The Downs owes us something — you know, it would be great if they would give us a gift, we’ve asked for it multiple times — but at the end of the day this is a land transaction between a seller and a buyer and we are trying to find that compromise that gets us to a deal that both parties can live with.”

The vote to authorize the town manager to execute the option agreement passed 6-1 at the Aug. 2 meeting, with Councilor Don Hamill voting against the action. With the purchase falling through, new actions will be needed to progress the project with the same land option. The council will meet in an executive session before their regular meeting on Aug. 16 to plan their next action.

“The impasse we have reached is unfortunate, but we need to protect the town and the project’s best interest,” said Anderson. “This setback doesn’t change the fact that there is still an urgent need for our schools and the council will need to think about the best path forward for our community.”

If the town and Crossroads Holdings can agree and sign on a new option agreement, the land purchase for the school site would be on the Nov. 7 election ballot. To do so, the council needs to approve the ballot question in their Sept. 6 meeting. This item will be on the Aug. 16 meeting agenda in case the town comes to an agreement with Crossroads Holdings or the council chooses a different course of action.

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