Written by Ike Morgan: GARLAND - The 2009/2010 school year will be the last year of operation for the Garland Elementary School and citizens will have to decide what to do with the 50-year old structure and the 14 acres of land it is situated on. Like many small towns across the state of Maine, Garland will gain ownership of a school building that will close its door to students at the end of the school year, in order that they may be bussed to a new facility in another community in September 2010.
The long time fixture that served as the elementary school for thousands of Garland and Exeter students over the years will no longer be needed by SAD 46 as all students in K-8 will be bussed to a new primary/middle school located in Dexter.
The closure has the residents of Garland wondering what should become of the school once the town takes ownership in September 2010. Realizing that it could be an asset as well as a liability, the Garland selectmen formed a committee of residents with the express purpose of investigating possible uses of the building and land.
The committee, consisting of eight Garland residents, recently surveyed the community to determine how the school could best suit the interests of the town. Although there were some who were in favor of selling the property, it seemed that most wanted to develop some kind of community center for the town.
The committee is now in the process of developing a plan for a community center that would be placed on the 2010 town warrant and voted on by the citizens at the annual town meeting in March.
Thus far the committee has focused on making the future community center a self-sufficient facility that would not require any tax revenues from the town. Committee chairperson, Nancy Towle believes the cost of heat, electricity, maintenance, and insurance for the building could easily be paid through rental fees and other funding sources such as grants. She also mentioned the importance of making the center an asset to the town and at the same time not placing any burden on town finances.
Another idea being floated is the possibility of selling off some of the adjoining land to developers.
The Garland Community Center Committee wishes to invite any interested resident to contribute ideas and comments concerning the center. The committee is especially interested in receiving input from as many Garland residents as possible so that the final plans reflect the best interests of the town.
Informational and planning meetings will be held on the second and fourth Monday of each month and surveys will be available during the upcoming Garland Days. On Monday, Sept. 26 there will be an open house for all interested citizens."This content originally appeared as a copyrighted article in the SVWeekly.com and is used here with permission."
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