April 07, 2020

Dover-Foxcroft officials hear proposals for new use of Morton Avenue school

DOVER-FOXCROFT – The relocation of the town skating rink was among the possible uses of the Morton Avenue Elementary School property aired earlier this week during a public hearing.

The school is slated to close when a new elementary school building, now under construction, opens in September 2007. SAD 68 officials intend to offer the old building to the town.

The donation will need the approval of residents, but selectmen want to have a proposal for the property ready before that vote.

On Tuesday, selectmen heard from David Frasz, president of Piscataquis Community Arena, which is a group that wants to move the skating rink from the Piscataquis Valley Fairgrounds closer to the downtown area. Frasz said that if the project is approved, the group wants to build a roof over the rink and eventually make it into a full arena with a covered walking area outside the rink.

“We’ve been frustrated in finding an appropriate site,” Frasz said Friday of the effort. He said PCA has been looking for land for some time and thinks the school property would make an ideal location for the project. This is an opportunity to move the rink to an area the children frequent, according to Frasz. Some parents are afraid of leaving their children at the rink in its current location because it is so isolated, he said.

Frasz said PCA’s interest is in the east end of the property where the temporary classrooms and playground are located. Classrooms on that side could be used as a changing area or locker rooms, he said.

PCA members are optimistic that grants could help pay for the development should their proposal be accepted, according to Frasz. One quote the group obtained for a simple arena last year came in at $1.2 million, he said. If the school property were used, the project would cost much less because portions of the school could be used as the warming area, he suggested.

Another proposal for the property aired Tuesday was from Jere White, executive director of the Piscataquis Regional YMCA, who said his organization is interested in the continued use of a portion of the building for programs.

While Mayo Regional Hospital has no specific recommendation for using the building, Ralph Gabarro, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said Tuesday there is interest in the process, according to Town Manager Jack Clukey.

Another option aired earlier was from resident Richard Stites, who asked selectmen to consider the building for a municipal office.

Clukey said the board’s promotion and development committee will review the possible options and will make a recommendation to the board for the school’s use.

No specific recommendations have been aired regarding the superintendent’s office on Mayo Street, which also will be vacated when the new school opens, according to Clukey.

Correction: This article ran on page C3 in the State edition.

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