BAR HARBOR — A combination bathroom and storage building that’s proposed for a site near the football field at Mount Desert Island High School is being put out to bid. It is expected to cost more than $500,000.
The school’s board of trustees voted unanimously last Wednesday to have architect Mike Sealander complete a design for the structure and to solicit construction bids. They emphasized that soliciting bids does not obligate them to select a contractor and proceed with the project.
The proposed building would have about 1,450 square feet of storage space, primarily for athletic equipment, as well as four bathroom stalls for women, two stalls and two urinals for men, and a private, single-occupancy bathroom.
Currently, people attending football games, track meets or other events and practices use portable toilets set up near the bleachers.
Secure storage space at the school is so limited that some athletic equipment, such as the expensive foam landing pits used for pole vaulting, is being stored in places where it is susceptible to damage by mice and the elements.
School administrators and trustees have said bathrooms and storage space are both critical longstanding needs.
The trustees expect to have about $520,000 that they could spend on a new building in the coming fiscal year. But to keep some funds in reserve for emergencies, they would like to spend no more than about $480,000.
Based on what school officials had originally said would be an optimum building for meeting the bathroom and storage needs, Sealander in January presented a rough design for a 4,000-square-foot, two-story building. But the preliminary cost estimate was $864,000, so the trustees asked him to downsize the project.
The new design is for a 40-by-40-foot building with storage space and bathrooms on the ground floor and a half-story of storage space beneath a slanted roof. Solar panels could be installed on the south-facing roof in the future.
Principal Matt Haney told the trustees last week that Sealander thought the smaller building would be in the school’s price range.
“But he sent the plans out to independent cost estimators, and they came back higher,” Haney said. “So, it appears that a safe estimate for the design he came up with would be around $600,000, which we don’t have to spend next year.”
He said the cost of construction alone is estimated at around $540,000. Design and project management costs, plus contingency, would add $50,000 to $60,000.
“We don’t want to be deterred by this number,” Haney told the trustees. “We feel like it’s important to keep going with this project and [look for] creative solutions to make it happen.”
Trustee Rob Jordan said, “This is something we’ve talked and talked and talked about, and we need to move forward on it.”
Tony Smith agreed.
“Design it and put it out to bid; then we will have real numbers to work with,” he said.
Smith, a trustee who also is the public works director for the town of Mount Desert, added, “Based on recent experience with projects, I think it will come in under the $600,000.”
Keri Hayes asked, “Am I the only person who thinks this is a lot of money to spend for bathrooms?”
Steve Hudson noted that the building also is for badly needed equipment storage.
“We’ve been damaging equipment because we haven’t had the money to spend on storage,” he said. “I’m not convinced we have it right now, either, but it’s a question of how long we go on like this.”
Ingrid Kachmar said that, with solid construction figures, alumni and other friends of the high school could perhaps start a private fundraising effort to offset some of the cost.
The trustees agreed that one way to lower the cost of construction might be to do the project this fall rather than in the summer, when contractors are busiest and likely to charge more. Sealander agreed.
“This could potentially be an October, November, December project,” he said. “You would bypass that whole summer slammer schedule.”