Voters in a special Regional School District 22 referendum Feb. 6 narrowly authorized the district to borrow up to $850,000 to replace turf and upgrade stadium lighting at Hampden Academy.

Despite failing in Frankfort and Winterport, the request passed by wide-enough margins in Hampden and Newburgh for an unofficial tally of 513 to 504.

RSU 22 Superintendent Rick Lyons said the school committee will sign off the proposal. He anticipated putting the project out to bid in the middle of March, and accepting bids in April.

The work would happen this summer, from June to August. Lyons said the hope is to have the fields ready for the fall sports season.

Lyons said voter turnout was high for a special referendum with only one question on the ballot in three of the four towns — Newburgh voted on several other questions including a ban on marijuana businesses.

The 14-year-old turf at Hampden Academy's athletic fields, used for high school field hockey, football, soccer and softball, has outlived its advertised lifespan of eight to 10 years, according to a newsletter published by RSU 22 in 2017. At the time, the district was looking into upgrading the existing stadium lights to LED fixtures.

Tuesday's referendum authorizes RSU 22 to bond up to $850,000 for a term of 10 years. Assistant Superintendent Regan Nickels, speaking to The Republican Journal before the vote, said the total cost could be lower depending upon bids. Additionally, the district has roughly $100,000 in a reserve account that could be applied to reduce the amount the district has to borrow, she said.

Nickels said the impact to local property taxes will depend upon changes in local valuation, which affects state funding for education. A bond for the full $850,000, with interest, would require payments of roughly $100,000 per year, divided among the four towns, she said.

Frankfort 19 20
Hampden 346 303
Newburgh 81 64
Winterport 67 117
513 504