BAR HARBOR — Building proper restroom facilities for people attending football games and track meets at Mount Desert Island High School is this year’s top priority for the school’s trustees, who are responsible for buildings and grounds.
Sports fans currently have to use portable toilets set up near the stadium’s bleachers.
The trustees hope to have a design concept and cost estimate for a restroom building to consider at their Feb. 28 meeting and, perhaps, to vote on moving ahead with construction this summer.
“I personally think the bathrooms have to get done,” said trustee Ingrid Kachmar, who also is chairman of the separate high school board. “It is ridiculous to be down there at any sporting event and have to use port-a-potties.”
“I agree with Ingrid’s statement,” Superintendent Marc Gousse said. “We have outstanding facilities here … but it’s the feeling of the administration, I think, and many of the residents that the bathroom situation is really subpar the way we’re doing it now.”
The high school also has a serious lack of storage space, including for sports equipment such as the foam-filled pits that pole vaulters land on. Last fall, the trustees asked Ellsworth architect Mike Sealander to develop a design concept for a building near the stadium for both restrooms and storage.
He designed a two-story, 4,000-square foot building, for which he received a preliminary cost estimate of $864,000.
However, the trustees currently have only about $475,000 that they could spend on new construction.
“Now, we have to decide whether we do that project [that Sealander designed] in multiple phases, do we abandon it completely, do we wait until we have all the money, or do we maybe just do the bathroom project now and look at doing the storage at another time,” Principal Matt Haney told the trustees at their Jan. 24 meeting.
“I think it’s important to get the bathrooms in place,” he continued. “And I think it’s important that we do it right and that we do it sustainably with some solar power attached to it.”
After a lengthy discussion, the trustees agreed to ask Sealander to scale back the project to a one-story building with bathrooms and about 600 square feet of storage space. The bathroom facilities in his original design included eight stalls for women, and five urinals and three stalls for men.
Sealander said his off-the-cuff estimate of the cost of the smaller building would be around $500,000, which is still more than the trustees have to spend.
Kachmar suggested that whatever gap exists between the building cost and what the trustees can afford might be bridged by private donations.
“There is a fundraising component to this that could come into play,” she said. “There is a group of us that has talked about, when this finally starts, getting alumni to pay to have their names on pavers and things like that that I think could potentially fund that gap.”
Trustee Heather Jones asked if the expectation is that the trustees will have enough information at their Feb. 28 meeting in terms of building design and construction costs to take action.
“I would say that taking no action at that meeting would be taking action not to do it [this year],” Haney responded.