A rented truck trailer and an old wooden shed at Mount Desert Island High School that are used to store athletic equipment need to be replaced by a permanent building with restrooms, said Principal Matt Haney. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Leaking walls bubble up again

BAR HARBOR — The Mount Desert Island High School trustees don’t want another year to go by before leaky classroom walls and windows are replaced.

They would like to send out bid requests for the project in January so the work can be done next summer. But first, they have to decide on the scope of the project.

Initially, only the windows and exterior walls in the school’s academic wing were to be rebuilt. But last year, the outside wall of the art room, which faces an interior courtyard, started leaking. School officials decided it would make sense to replace, whether leaking or not, all of the walls and windows that were installed incorrectly as part of an expansion and renovation project in 2000.

“The walls are the major part of the problem; they weren’t put together right,” said Butch Bracy, the school’s facilities manager.

The low bid submitted last spring for the entire walls and windows project was $801,700, including $280,777 for just the academic wing. But the trustees had budgeted only $244,177. Architect Mike Sealander told the trustees last May that because of a “math error” in his office, the cost of the project was initially underestimated.

The bids also were higher than anticipated, he said, because the bid requests went out so late that some companies that might have been interested had already committed to other work for the summer. He said the “bidding climate” should be much more favorable if the project is rebid in the winter of 2017.

Another factor in the failure to get the project done this past summer was the inability of the trustees to conduct business at several meetings due to the lack of a quorum.

The trustees last week agreed to ask Sealander to come to their next meeting, on Dec. 8, with new, firm estimates for the various elements of the walls and windows replacement project.

That is one of three construction projects that Principal Matt Haney has identified as high priorities.

Another is repaving the school’s parking lots and improving the area around the entrance to the gym. The entrance drive and associated parking areas were rebuilt last year.

Haney’s third high-priority project is construction of a storage building for athletic and physical education equipment, some of which is currently kept in a trailer near the entrance to the football stadium.

“It would be a secure building where we could keep the rodents and the moisture out,” Haney said.

He said a storage building also could include restrooms for people attending athletic events “as opposed to the sea of porta-potties that are out there now.”

Haney said a rough estimate of the cost of all three projects is about $1.5 million.

The trustees probably have enough money in reserve to pay for the walls and windows project and possibly some of the paving work. The rest would have to be borrowed if the trustees decide to go ahead with all of the paving work and the storage building.

“I’m not a real big proponent of taking out loans if we can avoid it,” trustee Steve Hudson said. “The whole point of boosting our budget, which we’ve done steadily over the past several years, was that we could pay for things up front.”

Haney said that, overall, the school has facilities it can be proud of.

“Most people who come to visit here cannot believe this is a 50-year-old building except in two places, and they happen to be the most public places on this campus: the entrance to the track and football stadium and the entrance to the gym,” he said.

“Obviously, there’s a difference between the dire need of leaking windows and the aesthetics and non-verbal communication that we give about this school. But those are not to be downplayed, either. The entrances to our major public venues say a lot about our school and community.”

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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