OAKLAND — School and community officials expect to break ground Friday afternoon on a project that will transform the track and football field at Messalonskee High School into a state-of-the-art multisport athletic complex.

The ceremony will mark the beginning of the $3.9 million renovation project, which is part of a larger bond that residents from the Oakland-based Regional School Unit 18 voted to pass in November.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am for this,” Superintendent Carl Gartley said Monday in an interview. “It’s going to be good for the students and the entire community.”

The project includes an abundance of upgrades to the high school, including a new eight-lane track to replace the current outdoor track, which has been dubbed the “dirt oval”; multisport artificial turf to replace the grass field used exclusively for football; and upgraded lighting and renovation of the grandstand area to bring it into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Gartley said having such a facility at Messalonskee will allow the district to host state meets as well as rent out the complex for events as they do with their performing arts center.

The complex is expected to be finished by early October, Gartley said, adding that the district is on track with both its timeline and its budget.


The district is working with E.L. Vining & Son, a Farmington contracting company, to complete the project. E.L. Vining specializes in commercial site work, including athletic fields. The company has worked previously on Messalonskee Middle School and has had a good working relationship with the district, according to RSU 18’s website.

Gartley said E.L. Vining submitted the lower of two bids, coming in at $3.4 million to do the project, in a public process. Gartley said the bid did not include the cost of the engineer’s plans, among other fees.

The athletic complex first was proposed by the Messalonskee All Sports Boosters, which raised money to conduct feasibility studies and get a cost estimate for the project.

Gartley said many people deserve credit for getting the bond passed and putting the project in motion.

Students, school officials, coaches and community members are expected to be in attendance at 12:30 p.m. Friday when the district breaks ground on the complex on the football field at the high school.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239


Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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