BAR HARBOR — This summer, the leaky walls and windows at Mount Desert Island High School were replaced, the parking lots were repaved, and the area around the gym entrance was rebuilt and landscaped.
Now, school officials are looking at building a facility for restrooms and sports equipment storage near the track and football field.
“We have an excellent facility for track meets, but the one thing that’s hurting is our [pole vault and high jump landing] pits,” Athletic Director Bunky Dow told the school’s Board of Trustees Sept. 12.
Currently, the pits are being stored underneath the press box and in a trailer, where they have been subjected to damage by mice. Dow said new pits will be needed if the school is to host track meets after this year.
“I’ll bet they’re going to be deemed unsafe, unsanitary,” he said. “So, we’re going to have to replace them. But I’m not going to spend $18,000 to $20,000 for new ones if we don’t have a proper place to store them.”
He said there is a serious shortage of storage space for other athletic equipment, as well as equipment used by other departments at the high school.
As for restrooms for track meets and football games, there are none. Instead, portable toilets line one end of the parking lot.
“We’re MDI High School; we’re MDI community. I think we need to step it up,” Dow said.
Tony Smith, a new member of the trustees board, said, “I’ve attended functions here, and I was surprised there wasn’t indoor plumbing.”
Board member Keri Hayes said, “I am very pro sports, but I question whether this is really a high priority. Is this really at the top of the list?”
“It’s at the top of the list of things that are doable without massive outlay,” Haney said.
Three years ago, architect Mike Sealander estimated the cost of an 1,850-square-foot storage and restroom building at about $440,000. The trustees last week asked him to update that estimate.
Smith suggested that the school should look at building a larger facility to make sure it will meet future as well as current needs.
“This is something we’re going to have to live with for a long time,” he said.
Other board members raised the possibility of splitting the project: building restrooms onto the back of the snack shack and a free-standing storage facility.
The board asked Sealander to estimate the cost of several different options.
Haney said that if the cost of the building or buildings is in the $450,000 range, the school should be able to do the project next summer.
Currently, the trustees have about $121,000 in their budget for this fiscal year, some of which is likely to be carried over to next year. There is another $210,000 in the major capital reserve account. And Haney said the trustees’ budget for next fiscal year, which starts July 1, should be about $250,000.
“So, I believe it is more than feasible, if we are conservative with our spending this year, that we would have the money to go forward with this type of project for next fiscal year,” he said.
Hayes asked what would happen if the school commits to spending virtually all of next year’s budget before the fiscal year even starts and then there is a major emergency.
Haney said, “I can’t foresee a situation where we would have to do something without planning ahead that wasn’t an insurance claim. I hope.”