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Originally published in Castine Patriot, October 18, 2012
New site plan specs presented for Penobscot parking lot project
School board looks to town meeting vote for any additional funds

by Anne Berleant

School board members met on Monday, October 8, where they received a detailed report by engineer Andrew McCullough on his site plan for the proposed parking lot at the school and a copy of the plan.

The school board requested detailed specifications after the previous set brought in August bids ranging from $28,900 to $62,100. Contractors at that meeting said that the plan didn’t give sufficient information for them to gauge the amount of materials and labor the project might require.

McCullough reported that 49 spaces—not the 40 as originally proposed—will fit in the proposed site, which adds a 180’ x 120’ area to the existing lot between the school and the fire department.

“This is going to be a three-week job,” he said.

He also advised two additions to the bid: that filter fabric be laid at the bottom of the entire site, not just the roughly one-third that lies in wetlands, and that the contractor provide a performance bond to guarantee the job will be completed and sub-contractors paid.

“It’s a relatively small price to pay for a high level of security,” McCullough said, and the board agreed.

The board, with an eye toward town meeting in March, will vote to move forward with those plans at its November meeting, advertising for bids in order to firm up the project’s cost.

Twenty thousand dollars lie in an account reserved for the expansion project, approved by voters in 2006. In 2012, they voted to spend it this year. However, with the cost of the project nearly certain to be higher than that amount, the board wants to add additional money needed to the 2013-14 school budget, to be voted on at town meeting.

In addition, the board reviewed a communication proposal from Temple Blackwood, a Castine school board member, which seeks to link the two schools and their buses, the Penobscot and Castine fire departments and Maine Maritime Academy on two dedicated VHF frequencies.

Outside of “a little extra money” to involve the Penobscot Fire Department, there is no cost involved; Blackwood plans on funding the communications link with grant money (not yet applied for).

Chairman Jerry Markley reported that Fire Chief Denny Robertson “needs to see more” before involving the fire department.

The link would be viable for at least ten years, according to the proposal.

“There’s no downside?” asked Principal Allen Cole.

“No,” said Markley, who will be working on the grant application with Blackwood. “I think it’s a good idea.”

The board voted unanimously to continue to investigate the proposed communications link.

In an update from the Penobscot School Discussion Group, Cole informed the board that RSU 18 Assistant Superintendent Linda Laughlin will speak on October 18, 7 p.m., at the school, on performance-based learning.

“How does that work?” he asked. “Come to the meeting,” he answered.

In other business, the board unanimously approved opening the pre-K/kindergarten class to 18 students for 2012-13, which would allow four non-residents to attend pre-K at a cost of $1,000 each per trimester.

Greg Bowden was awarded the snow plow bid for 2012-13 at a cost of $69.99 per storm, $79.99 per storm sanding, with $25 per storm for plowing two bus turnarounds.

Danny Pert was approved as girls’ “A” PenBrook basketball coach with a $700 stipend. Suzzi Nielsen was approved as eighth-grade advisor with a $500 stipend.

The board next meets on Tuesday, November 13, 6 p.m., at the school.