FARMINGTON – Meeting in Mt. Blue Middle School for the first time since the central office facility was moved there, the school board heard a report from the chief architect of the Mallett School project.
The plans for that project have had to change since the last time the board reviewed the project, after the Maine Historical Society raised concerns over the district’s desire to acquire a piece of property on Perham Street. The old Mallett School project needed that property to create a Perham Street egress for buses.
This new design makes a Perham Street exit unnecessary. Instead, a vehicle traffic route which would enter via Middle Street, curve around the west and north sides of the school, and exit onto Quebec Street. The position and layout of the school would be altered, making room for a separate, circular bus loop in front of the building which would enter and exit onto Middle Street. This would keep buses and passenger cars away from each other, and away from the playgrounds to the east of the building.
This arrangement was further improved when architects discovered the existence of a self-contained treatment and retention unit. known as “StormTreat System Tanks,” the units are 10 feet in diameter, and consist of six, segmented filtration areas which would remove contaminants before the water exits the device. The tanks would be placed in a few different parts of the site, and are covered by a padlocked dome. A ring of some wetland species of plant, such as tiger or water lilies, would encircle each device.
This eliminates the need of a retention pond, which would create another area which would have had to have been fenced off from children. This new system, on the other hand, takes up only a small amount of room.
The new site plan would require a readjustment of the preliminary building layout that had been under consideration by the building committee. The revised interior plan for the school would move the first graders to the second floor, along with the second and third graders. Each grade would have a separate section, and four stairwells would provide access, allowing the younger children to have their own stairs.
The state Department of Education will review the facility plan in October, after another straw vote is conducted for the building plan.
In other business, the school board affirmed the vote that closed of the Weld Elementary School. Residents there had approved closing that school on August 12, after the move was recommended by both administration and school board with only 13 students potentially attending that facility this fall. Instead, most of those students are attending class in Wilton.
However, the board have not yet returned the facility to the town, as the deed for the building has not been located by MSAD 9. This could mean that Weld already legally owned the building. If true, they would not have to hold a town meeting to accept the facility, as they would have already owned it. However, legal counsel will likely need to be consulted for Weld to choose the next step.
The board also met in executive session over the issue of the University of Maine at Farmington parking lot near Mallett School. That parking lot would need to be acquired by MSAD 9 for the current Mallett School project to proceed. The district has been discussing the issue with university representatives.