In this April 30, 2019, file photo, the main entrance to the Conners building at the K-8 Conners Emerson School is seen in Bar Harbor. The school dates to the early 1950s. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Bar Harbor voters Tuesday approved a $58 million bond request to construct a new school to replace the current Conners Emerson School.

The measure passed 1,005 to 502. The approval of the bond will allow the project to move ahead but town officials will have to put the project out to bid for construction, which likely will take a couple of years.

Built in the 1950s, Conners Emerson School is a K through 8 school split into two buildings with a host of problems. School officials have said the current buildings have little-to-no insulation in classroom walls, outdated boilers, insufficient air exchange, inadequate water pipes, and leaky roofs that need frequent repair. This past winter, the school library was closed indefinitely because of poor air quality caused by water leaking into the library walls.

The buildings also lack gender-neutral bathrooms, adequate program space for one-on-one instruction, and a dedicated gathering space aside from the gym and cafeteria.

In January, the Bar Harbor town council balked at a preliminary $70 million estimate for the project, which took into account rising construction costs and other associated costs like engineering, fees, furnishing and technology. At the time, members of the building committee said they would work with Lisa Sawin, a Portland architect consulting with the school department on the project, to reduce the projected cost of the project before it went to voters.

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....