RSU 24 moves forward on plan to purchase property next to Sumner

SULLIVAN — Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24) Board members decided last week during an executive session to allow Superintendent Michael Eastman to move forward with a $135,000 offer to purchase land that abuts Sumner Memorial High School.

The discussion followed an initial offer and counteroffer between the board and the landowner. The purchase would have to be approved by the Maine State Board of Education, which RSU 24 Business Manager David Bridgham said could happen in May.

The property in question sits just to the right to Sumner as visitors pull in. It is surrounded on three sides by Sumner land. The fourth side borders Route 1. Bridgham said part of the appeal of the site is that it would increase the high school’s road frontage by 25 percent.

The board “reluctantly” agreed to move forward with an amount halfway between its original offer and the counteroffer, Bridgham said.

“They would have preferred to pay what they offered, but it’s a real estate deal,” he said.

The plan comes as RSU 24 officials ramp up work around rebuilding Sumner Memorial High School, which will remain in the same location. Earlier this year, the School Board approved a plan to house the district’s middle school students in the same complex. Bridgham said the appeal of this purchase was to allow designers for that project more options.

“It affects our flexibility in how the site will be designed,” he said, “and there is an expectation that the state will reimburse most of the cost.”

He said that cost would be reimbursed further down the line as the School Board works with the state to implement plans around the new high school.

Jack Dodson
Jack Dodson began working for The Ellsworth American in mid-2017, and covers eastern Hancock and western Washington counties. He grew up in the Mid-coast region before living in New York City for five years, where he freelanced in documentary filmmaking and journalism. He is particularly interested in criminal justice, environment and immigration reporting.

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