Board rejects building purchase
BRUNSWICK — With a $2.1 million renovation price tag, the Brunswick School Department decided not to pursue purchasing the town- owned former Times Record building on Industry Road for use as a bus garage and central office space.
By an 8-1 vote Wednesday, the board nixed considering purchase of the building after reviewing new cost estimates and a presentation from the firm drafting a new master plan for school district facilities.
District 5 board member and chairman Jim Grant cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he did not have enough time to consider a recommendation Wednesday from Superintendent Paul Perzanoski that the board tell Brunswick Town Manager Gary Brown that the school department is no longer interested in using the building.
In part, the new master plan looks at facilities changes that would allow the district to further consolidate functions such as transportation and administration — and prepare for any future expansions, including possible additions to Coffin School and the potential reopening of Jordan Acres School as a school or administrative building.
Plans including the Industry Road building would have involved moving the district’s central offices out of their location at Hawthorne School and shifting the district’s bus garage near Coffin School and Brunswick Junior High to Industry Road.
According to survey results presented by Jeff Larimer of the district’s architecture firm, Harriman Inc., the move would allow the district to cut operating costs on both facilities, but board members said the price tag for the move was too high.
“Money is too tight and needs to go to schools rather than facilities that we already have that may not be as good as they should be,” District 4 representative Corinne Perreault said during Wednesday’s workshop.
For the first time Wednesday, the board also discussed assessments from a structural survey that put the cost of bringing the Jordan Acres School’s roof back up to code at $600,000, including work beyond fixing a split roof beam that was discovered in March 2011.
In a Jan. 19 evaluation, engineer Peter Lincoln, of Lincoln/Haney Engineering Associates Inc., wrote that codes changes since 1971 make up part of the new costs for bringing the Jordan Acres building back online.
In response to a budget shortfall and to allow time for a structural assessment of the Jordan Acres building, school officials chose to mothball the building for this academic year. Prior to the emergence of the budget gap and structural problems at Jordan Acres, the school department planned to educate students in kindergarten through second grade there. As a contingency plan, the school system assigned second-graders to Harriet Beecher Stowe School, which opened in the fall of 2011, and sent all of the town’s kindergartners and first-graders to Coffin School.
“It is not a very encouraging situation, given the magnitude of deficiencies,” Lincoln wrote following an explanation of the Jordan Acres building’s overstressed roof beams and changes that would need to be made to accommodate new snow load standards.
Larimer said some of those structural problems would now require repair for beams under similar stress as the beam that cracked.
“There are multiple locations where the same failure could be repeated,” Larimer told the board Wednesday. “And the way the roof was designed back in 1971 requires the whole roof structure to be upgraded before it is re-occupied. “
In total, the engineer’s recommendations include the addition of 48 new rafters and up to 24 new columns under existing girders at the perimeter of the building.
To return the school to serving grades K-2, Larimer estimated, the project would require around $2.6 million — including codes- related improvements — if the school’s “open concept” layout is retained.
Creating separate classrooms inside the 48,160- square-foot building could cost up to $4.65 million, according to Larimer’s estimates.
The plans presented Wednesday outlined a total of eight configurations for the district’s elementary school facilities, and similar evaluations for the district’s junior high school will be completed in February, according to facilities committee chairman Rich Ellis.
District 3 Town Councilor Suzan Wilson also spoke at Wednesday’s meeting, criticizing a lack of public engagement in Wednesday’s workshop and encouraging members of the public to help the school department in considering its facilities options going forward.
“You have so much to do and I want to thank you for taking this on,” Wilson said. “I hope the public helps a little more than they have been doing.”
See the detailed facilities configurations below or download the PDF:
See Larimer's full PowerPoint presentation to the board: