SAD 61 may use Memorial School over next two years

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

Could the fact that SAD 61 may need to use the Bridgton Memorial School while construction projects are underway over the next two years possibly derail the concept of locating the Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum here?

Just as a document was submitted late last week expressing the Town of Bridgton’s interest in having a museum for the Narrow Gauge Railroad come here from Portland, the superintendent of SAD 61 said the school district may need to use two or three classrooms at Bridgton Memorial School, over the next two years.

However, Supt. Patrick Phillips said, at the Bridgton Board of Selectmen’s meeting Feb. 22, that the school district does have other options for off-campus programs that may have to be relocated due to planned construction. So, he said the town and SAD 61 can likely work something out so as not to throw the proposed Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum project off track.

“I don’t feel the needs of the school district are paramount,” said Supt. Phillips. “The needs of the town, in my opinion, would rise to a higher level.”

The often discussed proposed site for such a museum and other ancillary economic development projects has been the Bridgton Memorial School located in the downtown.

Bridgton’s Economic and Community Development Director Alan Manoian submitted a request for proposals solicited by the board of trustees of the NGRR Museum on Feb. 25 for the museum to be located here. Other communities under consideration include Portland, Gray and Monmouth.

Asbestos and PCBs

When the subject of the completed brownfields study at the Bridgton Memorial School came up, it was explained that the town would be responsible for the remediation of asbestos and PCBs, when and if it takes ownership form the school district. Bridgton voters would make any decision, regarding the future ownership of BMS by the town.

“As it turns out, the main issue of an environmental hazard is the (BMS) building itself,” Manoian said. “It was constructed of cement board which is asbestos. We often said there is not asbestos in this building — this building is asbestos. There are also PCBs in the window frames. Ultimately, it is the building that needs to be remediated.”

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