BREWER, Maine — The city is asking residents what they want to do with three elementary schools and Brewer Middle School once the new pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade Brewer Community School opens in the fall.
The first of two public meetings was held Thursday and another one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Washington Street School.
The new school on Parkway South will replace Capri Street School, State Street School, Washington Street School and Brewer Middle School, which were built between 1925 and 1962.
The four buildings will become city property once vacated at the end of the school year.
Thursday’s meeting was held to discuss what to do with Brewer Middle School and State Street School, and City Planner Linda Johns kicked off the meeting by giving an overview of the two school sites.
State Street School has 4.6 acres and Brewer Middle School sits on 0.88 acre and both are in office-residential zoning, she said.
The school department plans to keep the gym section of Brewer Middle School so it can be used for administrative office space and to house the Alpha Classroom, formerly the Alternative Choices for Teens program, Superintendent Daniel Lee told the 30 or so people gathered at Thursday night‘s meeting.
The school department leases space at a cost of about $15,000 annually for the Alpha program, and school administrators are now spread throughout the city, he said.
Mike Pullen, architect for WBRC Architects and Engineers of Bangor, also made a short presentation about reusing old schools, giving several examples, including Bangor’s School House Apartments on Harlow Street, which was once the Queen City’s high school.
“It’s done all the time,” Pullen said.
Pullen said Brewer Middle School would be a good candidate for reuse and may qualify for federal tax credits because of its historic value, if it is redeveloped into affordable housing.
City leaders created an ad hoc committee in 2010 to look into redevelopment options for the four buildings.
Moving city hall into the old middle school has been discussed, and area businesses have inquired about redeveloping the site, Tanya Pereira, Brewer’s deputy director of economic development, said Thursday.
“The city’s interest is looking at the best reuse of the property,” she said.
After the ad hoc committee, which consists of residents and city officials, has heard from the public, it will make recommendations to the City Council about how to reuse the former schools.