YARMOUTH — Voters will be asked Nov. 6 to authorize bonds to build a new public safety building and make improvements to local schools.

The Town Council is asking residents to approve borrowing $8.5 million for a public safety facility on North Road and as much as $52.2 million for two school expansion and improvement projects.

If all three questions pass, Town Manager Nat Tupper has recommended bonding over 30 years, which would impact property taxes by an estimated 8.2 percent in the peak year and by an average of 7.9 percent in the first 10 years, declining in subsequent years.

The town will hold a final public information meeting about the bond proposals Thursday at 6:30 at Yarmouth High School.

The two school improvement proposals are driven by projected enrollment increases.

One question will ask voters to authorize $40 million in borrowing for renovation and expansion of Yarmouth Elementary School; expansion and installation of security measures at Yarmouth High School; a roof project at Harrison Middle School; and restroom upgrades at Rowe School. The funds would include design, engineering and site improvements.

A second question will ask voters to also approve an additional $12.2 million for construction and expansion at Rowe School and Harrison Middle School, and a capital roof project at Yarmouth High School. Design, engineering and site improvements would be included.

The fate of the second question is contingent on passage of the first.

An initial cost estimate for the school projects, which the School Committee shared with the council last fall, was about $32 million. However, in May, the School Department received a detailed estimate that nearly doubled the projected cost, due in part to increased construction costs and more clearly defined needs. In addition, the need for new roofs at the middle and high schools became apparent.

According to the School Department’s website, safety concerns also arose that prompted proposals to upgrade school security.

“The earlier estimate was conceptual,” the website says. “… This was a high-level, rough estimate arrived at by the architectural firm after several months of work, looking at enrollment projections and talking with school staff.”

Councilors debated combining the two questions. Some worried that asking for only the full amount could jeopardize the outcome. At the same time, councilors said both projects are needed.

“I hope everyone understands … that the motion of breaking this up in two bonds should not be seen by anyone as a signal that the second bond is optional or not needed,” Councilor Tim Shannon said last month. “This amount of money is what’s needed for the schools … I hope we pass all of it.”

Assuming voter approval, the project is expected to take three years to complete. Most of the 2018-19 school year would be spent developing final plans and putting the projects out to bid in hopes of breaking ground next summer. The anticipated completion for all projects would be fall 2021.

The Town Council also is asking residents to approve borrowing $8.5 million to build a public safety facility on North Road for police, fire and emergency medical service departments and to free space in Town Hall for Community Services.

The existing North Road Fire Station, which would be demolished, was built in 1976. Officials say it was designed for smaller equipment and that the town has seen medical calls increase four-fold, from approximately 400 in 1976 to 1,634 in 2017. A 35-year-old modular building behind the station serves as office and living space for fire/EMS.

Moving the Police Department to a new facility on North Road would open up space in Town Hall for Community Services, now housed in a portable classroom there.

Construction would likely begin in spring 2019 and be completed in spring 2020.

Jocelyn Van Saun can be contacted at 781-3661, ext. 183, or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: JocelynVanSaun


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