May 26, 2018
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George Stevens Academy announces plans to improve gymnasium floor

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

BLUE HILL, Maine — The George Stevens Academy board of trustees has announced plans to replace the concrete pad foundation under the school’s gymnasium and to install a new wood floor inside the gym.

The project, approved by the trustees last month, is part of a $1.5 million capital improvement project that will include improvements and renovations in the gymnasium building, as well as add to the school’s endowment fund.

“This is part of a larger project,” board President Rob Clapp said Monday. “But given the economy and the information we were getting from prospective donors, the board thought it wise to break it down into manageable projects.”

The first phase of FLOOR ME!, the phase that will deal with the gym floor, is expected to cost about $750,000.

The school already has raised some funds for the project, including a leadership gift of $100,000 from Chuck and Belinda Lawrence. GSA will continue to raise the remaining money needed to complete the project.

The building was built in 1973, and the 120-seat Esther Wood Room was added in 1990. The building includes the gym and basketball court, space for athletic department offices and storage, classrooms, the school library, cafeteria and a faculty lounge. It is used for a variety of school activities, including concert and theater performances and all-school assemblies, as well as community events.

According to Clapp, the project is needed to deal with a problem with the concrete pad foundation, particularly under the gymnasium floor, which is sinking.

“The building is fine,” he said. “But one end of the gym floor — the end facing the Mill Brook — is slowly sinking. It’s about five inches below the other end.”

The concrete pad, on which the gym floor is built, was poured on fill, Clapp said, which appears to be shifting and causing the problem with the floor.

The plan is to tear up the existing gym floor, which is made of a rubberized material, and remove the section of the concrete pad underneath. Crews then would install a new wood floor in the gym.

“That will be a big improvement,” Clapp said.

Future phases of the improvement project will include renovating and reallocating existing space inside the gym building to meet the needs of academic and other programs at the school.

As a town academy, GSA receives tuition dollars and small facilities stipends from towns sending students there based on a formula determined yearly in Augusta. While a public school would look to its town budget as well as the state to meet its needs, GSA looks to the generosity of its community of alumni, parents and friends for additional support.

According to Clapp, work on the gym floor will begin the day after graduation in June. The hope is to have the work completed by September so the community and GSA can use the facility for basketball next year, he said.

No timeline is set for the other phases of the improvement project. That, Clapp said, will depend on funding.

“That’s somewhat dependent on support for the project,” he said. “When the public sees what we’ve done with the first phase, we’re hoping the support will be there.”

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