2017-04-12 / Front Page

Majority supports Wing Farm for school

Straw poll conducted Tuesday on site for Morse High School
Times Record Staff


The majority of participants at a straw poll Tuesday signaled their support for a new Morse High School to be built in the 27-acre Wing Farm business park that straddles Bath and the town of West Bath.

Around 100 community members were present for the vote.

Regional School Unit 1 hopes to open the school in 2020.

RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said that the straw poll vote was only regarding the site selection of the new school, as designs for the actual building have yet to be completed. A referendum on construction is slated for as early as September.

“We had narrowed it down to two sites,” said Manuel. “One was at the Bath Middle School — the McMann Complex — and the other was Wing Farm. Because of some complications on the Mc- Mann site, the Department of Education and the district feel that Wing Farm is the best option. The reason we had the straw poll tonight was to prove to the DOE that the community is in support of Wing Farm as the site for this project.”

The keynote speaker for the straw poll presentation was architect Ron Lamarre of Lavallee Brensinger Architects, who has been heading up the Morse High School project. Lamarre explained why he and the RSU 1 site selection committee believe that Wing Farm is the best site for the school as opposed to the McMann Complex, which is a series of athletic fields on Bath Middle School property.

Lamarre said that the middle school site fields were built under the Land Water Conservation Fund, which requires developers who build on that land to buy other pieces of land within the city to create parks.

“So basically if you built on an acre of the Middle School site, you would have to buy more land somewhere else,” said Lamarre. “Mc- Mann Field, the baseball field and tennis courts, those fields would have been taken up by the new school project, in which case we would have had to purchase another property anyway, which would have been Wing Farm. So even if we had put the new school on the middle school site, there would have been a purchase of Wing Farm and we would have been putting fields up there. We decided if we have to buy Wing Farm anyway, lets put the school up there.”

Lamarre pointed out that the new high school would be linked to the existing middle school with a sidewalk that is slated to be built between the properties. The high school’s entrance would sit on a piece of land on Congress Avenue that the district has purchased.

“That piece of property will allow for a nice gradual, safe and open transition from Congress Avenue up on to Wing Farm,” said Lamarre.

Lamarre also said that the Wing Farm site is “walkable,” has plenty of room for parking and gives builders an option to build “out instead of up.”

Though the majority of community members agreed that Wing Farm was the correct site for the new school, many expressed concern letting go of the current Morse High School.

“I’m all for the new school, but I don’t want the old school to be like Brunswick High School and have it all wiped out,” said a Bath resident who declined to be identified. “My heart hurts because my grandfather went to that school.”

“I love the current school, but I do understand that change is inevitable,” said Jen Billings of Woolwich. “As difficult as it is, I would rather see it at Wing Farm than somewhere else.”

The next step for RSU 1 is to present the Wing Farm project to the State Board of Education in May.


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