Casco hears impartial school repair options

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO – With a presentation on the most recent inspection of the Memorial School on the agenda, the local selectmen’s meeting drew a larger-than-usual crowd.

Not only were audience members engaged with questions and comments, but everyone applauded when the presentation was wrapped up.

Owens McCullough, of Sebago Technics, was one of the employees to go through the school building — drilling holes in window sills to look for water damage and inspecting the dirt floor basement of the building.

Earlier this month, McCullough told the board and assembly of residents that there “weren’t any surprises” or other damage than what had been previously identified.

“The roofing is horrendous. If something doesn’t get done, it will be problematic,” he said, adding the shingles are starting to curl.

“The roof will require fortification to address structural inadequacies. The engineer said it could be done,” he said.

“Shingles are in poor to terrible condition. All that has to come off,” he said.

In addition, all the window sills have wood trim board that is rotten — having suffered water damage.

“Why not knock it down, and start over?” Selectman Tracy Kimball asked.

“I anticipated that question, and we are going to get there,” McCullough answered.

Later, he said saving and restoring the Memorial School was doable, but it might not be the less expensive option.

“Fundamentally, you will spend more by building new, but because of the smaller square footage required, building new is less expensive,” he said.

According to contractors’ estimates, costs were between $80 and $150 per square foot.

Building a new structure on the property fell between the ranges of $700,000 to $914,000, he said.

Renovation could come in between $626,000 and $1,000,000, he said. For all estimates, he provided a $50,000 variance for landscaping.

However, when he applied the same square footage cost to both projects, compared to renovation, it would be cheaper to do new construction, he said. McCullough stressed that is because the floor plan of the existing building is larger than the 6,500 square foot plan Casco would need for town office space.

Resident Rick Thorpe complimented the Sebago Technic project engineer.

“I think this man gave us a comprehensive presentation that I was happy to sit here and listen to. He answered a lot of questions I had,” Thorpe said.

“My nostalgia for the building is somewhat tempered by my position as a taxpayer of Casco,” Thorpe said.

The town does not have funding in the budget to repair the school’s roof. Any decision to demolish the building and build new, or salvage the structure and remodel would require a town meeting — because of the funding piece, Morton said.

McCullough indicated the best solution was one made in a timely manner. He also said covering the building with a tarp was not a viable long-term solution.

“If the building stays abandoned too long, it makes it more difficult to re-occupy it,” he said.

Armed with information from the recent presentation, the selectmen will review the Memorial School options during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

To see a videotaping of the presentation on the town-owned structure, go to www.cascomaine.org and find a link on the home page.

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