January 28, 2021

Brewer seeks sites for new school

BREWER – School leaders are looking for land.

While it’s still uncertain whether the city will get funds for a new combined elementary-middle school or just a new elementary school, leaders are taking the next step by starting to evaluate properties that exceed 10 acres.

“We’re going to be advertising on Thursday … asking anybody in the city of Brewer with property for sale to contact my office,” Superintendent Daniel Lee said Tuesday.

Advertising will be found in Thursday’s edition of The Weekly and in the public notices of the Bangor Daily News this week, he said.

Lee and architect Richard Graves, of WBRC Architects-Engineers of Bangor, met on Oct. 12 with Maine Department of Education personnel and announced at Monday’s school building committee meeting that the land search has begun.

“They’ve given us permission to inquire about property in the city of Brewer,” Lee said. “They have not decided what the grade span will be yet.”

The Brewer High School district trustees and the building committee are collecting the information in order to evaluate the possibilities, he said.

“We’re not looking to buy right now,” Lee said.

No purchase figure for the land has been proposed or discussed, but the building committee has been looking for a 20-acre plot of land.

Interested landowners must contact the superintendent by Oct. 30 to be considered.

School officials and engineers have been working with the DOE to compare renovation costs against new construction for the city’s three elementary schools and the middle school, which will be used to decide the scope of the project.

Officials would like to replace the four aging elementary schools and middle school, all built between 1926 and 1962, with a combined elementary-middle school, but needs DOE approval to move forward.

The building committee, made up of parents, city and school leaders, has created a matrix to evaluate possible sites, with 26 criteria. Each of the possible locations will be evaluated using the matrix to determine the best possible fit for the project, Lee said.

Still under consideration is the renovation of the shared Brewer Middle School and State Street School location, he said.

The State Board of Education approved 13 school construction projects in August 2005, with the top six acquiring funds in 2008 and the remaining seven, with Brewer’s State Street School second on the list, set to receive funds in 2009. The hope is to open Brewer’s new school in 2010.

The November building committee meeting has been canceled to allow time for officials to research the possible sites, which includes evaluating properties for ledges, soils, wetlands, proper drainage and other items.

“You have to get out in the field and make those determinations,” Lee said. “We have to do a little homework.”

The building committee’s next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 18.

“It’s very important where you locate this school,” Lee said. “It’s certainly a decision you don’t want to rush through.”

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