The Monmouth Middle School on Jan. 31, 2019, in Monmouth. The pillared center portion was built in 1856 to replace the original 1803 Monmouth Academy that burned in 1851. No longer used as a school, Monmouth residents must now decide whether to raze all or portions of the former school complex. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal file

MONMOUTH — Town residents will have their say on plans for the future use of the former Monmouth Academy and middle school at a public hearing Thursday.

The public hearing, will take place during a meeting of the School Reuse Committee, scheduled for 6 p.m. via Zoom video conference. Information about the meeting can be found on the town’s website.

Tim McDonald, committee chairperson and member of Monmouth’s Board of Selectmen, said the group has been meeting to discuss the future of the former Monmouth Academy at 117 Academy Road for about six to eight months.

In 2019, the town was deeded the Monmouth Middle School, the former location of Monmouth Academy, and the Henry L. Cottrell School, which was the elementary school. Students from these schools were moved into the new consolidated Monmouth Memorial School for the 2020-21 school year. McDonald said the new school was built because renovations to the two existing schools were cost-prohibitive.

The former middle school consists of the old Monmouth Academy building, built in 1856, and three additions, built in 1952, 1960 and 1969. There is also an administration building and a playground on the property, but those will not be included in any potential demolition plans.

McDonald said the committee has not taken a position on what should happen to the buildings at the property, which he said is in “poor shape.”

“We’re just trying to provide the most logical choices to the town based on input from people and monetary constraints,” he said.

The cost to demolish all of the buildings except the playground and administration building and restore the site would be$452,810. The cost of demolishing everything except the 1856 building, playground and administration building would be $276,790.

A cost estimate included in meeting documents show the cost to demolish all buildings on the property except the old 1856 building, playground and old administration building would total $1,691,455. Most of that cost, more than $1 million, is to “preserve and update” the Academy.

If the old academy was updated, it would cost about $104,000 a year to maintain and operate it, along with an additional $16,000 to operate the old administration building.

If the building is renovated, it would then have to be used. The meeting documents suggest potential uses such as a community hall, meeting place or records storage.

The impact to the town’s property tax rate, which is currently $18.15 per $1,000 of property value, would be an increase of about $0.52 per $1,000 of property value, but could be reduced to $0.46 if the town uses money from the sale of the Henry L. Cottrell School. The median home value, $163,000, would see a $74.98 to $85.25 increase on their property tax bill.

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