BEC approves cost estimating for CSD building designs

Thu, 06/01/2023 - 10:30am

The Boothbay region Building Exploratory Committee chose a design concept May 30 for updates to the Community School District campus. The committee voted to move ahead on estimating costs to renovate the Boothbay Region Middle-Elementary School building and costs to construct a new Boothbay Region High School.

The BEC chose the North Site Plan, which includes constructing a new 105,000 square foot high school and doing renovations on the middle-elementary building, with a 9,700 square foot middle school addition. The order of magnitude estimate is $88 million, and the committee voted to move forward to pursue more accurate cost assessments.

Votes came after a review of three design plans and a project update from Lavallee Brensinger Architects. Architects Lance Whitehead and Joe Britton presented virtual renderings and current features of the design concepts for the new high school and elementary-middle school. They showed designs with open hallways, shared work areas and flexible education spaces to accommodate school growth. In addition, they said features such as low maintenance and energy-efficient materials were included with sustainability and long-term cost-saving in mind. They presented safety features they said could help cut down on bullying, assist visibility for student supervision and maintain safe building conditions.

The declined options included a more expensive design plan that involved constructing a new high school connected to a renovated middle-elementary building, including a new middle school addition, at $101 million. The least expensive plan was a maintain and repair approach to renovate both buildings, with no middle school addition and limited upgrades, at $44 million.

BEC member and CSD Board of Trustees Chair Steve Lorrain voted to move ahead but raised concerns about the costs at this stage. According to his experience with the flood-related damage to BRES, hidden costs have crept in, and estimates have gone up throughout the process.

Whitehead said the company is planning for contingencies and has a history with these kinds of projects.

“We have consistently, in all of our projects, come under and have given money back to taxpayers but we have to budget for the unknowns,” Whitehead said.

The architects said cost estimates on the $88 million choice will be available in late July, a month earlier than first anticipated. This new date of availability leaves over three months before a November bond vote. They encouraged the BEC to think about a campaign to educate the public.

“Our goal is to (have) a referendum with a well-informed population,” Whitehead said. "The public is very busy; they are difficult to get to, so we need to set up a campaign that is an information campaign.”

The BEC discussed strategies involving social media, weekly communication goals and public engagement to answer community questions. During public discussion, community members were generally supportive but wanted more clarity on how the project would affect Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor.

“The bottom line for this town is what's my impact? What’s my bottom dollar? What do I have to sacrifice?” said Jenn Whitney, who has a child in the CSD. “This town is amazingly generous when it comes to fundraising but there has to be a legitimate cause for that fundraising.”