A proposal to take out a $13.9 million bond to repair facilities and build an athletic complex at Regional School Unit 18 appeared to be passing at 9:50 p.m. Tuesday.

Residents voted in favor of the bond in Oakland, 1,036-635; China, 680-491; Sidney, 690-510; and Belgrade, 648-443. The ballots in Rome were not finished being counted for the print deadline. Final results will be available online at centralmaine.com.

With overall approval, the Oakland-based district expects to use the bond to address $10 million in facilities work, get its 11 buildings up to state fire safety standards, and build an athletic complex for $3.9 million that will include lighting, an eight-lane track, renovation to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a multi-sport artificial turf field.

The bond drew criticism from residents and municipal officials who said the proposed athletic complex was an unnecessary expense that taxpayers couldn’t afford. They also said the complex, which would be built at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, mostly would benefit students who take part in athletics and residents of Oakland, while the facilities work would benefit everyone.

The athletic complex first was proposed as a single project by the Messalonskee All Sports Boosters, which raised money to conduct feasibility studies and get an estimate for the project. The school board held multiple public hearings on the issue to hear from opponents and supporters after delaying the first vote. Both Belgrade’s and Rome’s selectmen wrote letters officially opposing the idea.

Some board members and residents were worried that if the athletic bond passed, it would be difficult or impossible to pass another bond for the necessary facility work. The board withdrew the motion for the $3.9 million bond, replacing it with the larger bond that would cover all of the necessary work, which ultimately passed, 9-1.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239


Twitter: @madelinestamour

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