BETHEL — The SAD 44 Board of Directors heard a presentation Monday on two new options for a bus garage that would cost less than the $2.8 million proposal that was rejected by voters in November.

District officials are also appealing to area residents to contact them if they have suggestions for other options.

One option presented by architect Jim Reuter calls for purchasing the current Nadeau Development Corp. garage on Route 26 in South Woodstock (next to Mollyockett Motel) and renovating it. The available space for garage use would be 7,400 square feet, comparable to the existing 7,200-square-foot SAD 44 garage in Bethel.

The proposal that was defeated in November called for a 9,500-square-foot building to be constructed at the Telstar complex.

The Nadeau option would preserve a current wood shop tenant on the site, earning SAD 44 $30,000 a year in income, according to Superintendent Dave Murphy. The building also has a second floor and 11 acres of land.

The estimated purchase price is $1.2 million, with another estimated $500,000 for improvements. Among the bigger-ticket improvements Reuter proposed are paving, a bus lift, a sprinkler system, an exhaust extraction system and a tire storage shed.

The building is comprised of two adjacent garages, the older of which was built in 1960. Reuter said he did not do a structural analysis or hazardous material inspection.

Murphy suggested if SAD 44 goes with that option that it might be a good idea to retain ownership of the current bus garage, which could be used for cold storage and to store a few buses in case they are needed on short notice in the Bethel area. Real estate estimates have indicated the district would likely not get significant money from the sale of the old building, which has structural problems.

The second option presented by Reuter calls for a new garage at Telstar, but smaller than the original proposal. It would be the same square footage as the current garage, at an estimated cost of $2.1 million.  It would not involve taking down a nearby maintenance building, which was part of the original plan.

Murphy said that if any area residents want to suggest other options for a garage to contact his office at 824-2185.

Asbestos at Telstar

Directors also learned from Murphy that SAD 44 had been approved by the Maine Department of Education for a Revolving Renovation Grant Award of $680,075 for the removal of asbestos floor tiles at the 50-year-old Telstar complex. The state would forgive $204,023 of that amount, with the rest to be paid off by the district over a 10-year period at an interest rate of 0 percent.

The project would have to be voted on at a district-wide referendum.

Murphy said that tiles are not a threat as long as they remain intact. “The tiles are OK until they’re not,” he noted.

Maintenance Supervisor Ron Deegan said one will occasionally get chipped or broken, presenting the potential for asbestos fibers to be released into the air. The district has done some small-scale abatement on its own, but this project would involve about 75 percent of the tiles.

Murphy and the directors acknowledged that pursuing the project now would probably not be good timing financially because of the continued consideration of a new bus garage. Murphy said he would check with MDOE to see how long SAD 44 could remain eligible for the award, to give the district a chance to resolve the garage issue.

He also said SAD 44 could continue to work on replacing tiles in small increments on its own.

Directors tabled the asbestos item until more information can be obtained from MDOE.


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