Hearings planned on school expansion, Transformation theater

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WESTBROOK — The Planning Board is expected to hold a public hearing next month on the school expansion project.

In a workshop Tuesday, the board discussed the project, which includes the renovations of Saccarappa School and Westbrook Middle School. It also had a workshop to discuss a proposal for a theater at the Transformation Project.

The school project was presented to the board as two separate items. The Planning Board scheduled site walks for each school on March 18; it will visit the middle school at 9 a.m. and Saccarappa School at 10 a.m.

The April 4 public hearing date is tentative, but is expected to be finalized soon, according to City Planner Jennie Franceschi.

Westbrook voters on Nov. 8 approved the $27.3 million school expansion bond, 5,291-3,804. The plans were presented to the board March 7 by architect Dan Cecil of Harriman Associates.

Saccarappa School, which is almost 70 years old, is the larger of the two projects. The elementary school, located at 110 Huntress Ave., will more than double in size.

The school will have 12 new general classrooms added, as well as 12 special education classrooms. There will also be a new library, cafeteria, a full-size gymnasium, music and art rooms, a playground, and athletic fields. Additionally, existing parts of the school will be upgraded and renovated.

Renovations at Saccarappa School will take up to 20 months with the school expected to be completed by the fall of 2019.

Westbrook Middle School, which opened in 2010 at 471 Stroudwater St., is having 12 new classrooms added. Although the building is new, it’s considered over capacity by more than 100 students. Renovations will take one year and the school will be completed by the fall of 2018.

Superintendent of Schools Peter Lancia last week said the renovations are expected to go out to bid as one project by the end of April. The hope is to start construction after the end of the school year.

Planning Board members said they are pleased with the work Harriman Associates has done on the project so far.

“I am totally pleased, Mr. Superintendent, that this particular company was chosen to finish this project because in my opinion it is an awesome project,” Vice Chairman Rene Daniel said.

The board on Tuesday also discussed a proposal from the Transformation Project, a faith-based organization that works to transition juvenile offenders from Long Creek Youth Development Center into society. The nonprofit, located at 907 Main St., opened this month.

Ken Hawley, the Transformation Project director, presented a brief plan on Tuesday to create a theater space in the building. He said it’s important for the young people living and working at the Transformation Project to have a creative outlet.

“We want to give them a platform to show off their talents … and give the community a chance to embrace and come alongside these people,” Hawley said.

He added that the venue could also be used for lectures or could be rented by churches.

The Planning Board didn’t have much discussion about the proposal, but scheduled a site walk for April 1 at 9 a.m. The board also approved holding a public hearing, but didn’t set a date. Franceschi said one will be held sometime in April or early May.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 78-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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