St. Lawrence Arts Center Holds First Workshop with Planning Board

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The Addition on Right Superimposed onto the Original Building on Left

The Addition on Right Superimposed onto the Original Building on Left

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,736)

The St. Lawrence Arts Center held the first of probably three workshops with the city’s Planning Board yesterday afternoon.  The applicant applied for amendments to their original conditional zoning agreement in late January of this year.

Peter Monro, Co-founder of KeepPortlandLivable.org

Peter Monro, Co-founder of KeepPortlandLivable.org

Kevin Gough, architect with Archetype Architects, presented an overview of the proposed addition to the Board.  That was followed by a presentation by Tom Gorrill, Gorrill-Palmer, Inc. of a proposed parking plan that includes a shutter to Cutter Street and possibly to a nearby parking garage.   The plan is not complete and needs additional refinement.  In the meantime, the city has just hired a traffic consultant. Nelson Nygaard, Boston, to evaluate the proposed parking plan.  Chairman Stuart O’Brien asked that discussion of the parking plan be deferred until a later meeting when the new consultant is up to speed.

However, a core of about eight people, mostly from Concerned Citizens, asked questions on the parking plan as well as on other matters relating to the proposed addition.  The size of the building is less an issue to the opponents of the proposed building because it is smaller in size than the original sanctuary which was a 500 seat facility.  The current proposed addition is comparable in size to the building already approved by the City back in 2010. Plans for that building were abandoned because potential funders said it would be too expensive to construct.  Plans were redrawn for the current contemporary building which is less expensive to construct than a plan resembling the original architecture.

Deidre Nice, Executive Director of the St. Lawrence Arts Center said that occupancy of the building is currently limited  to no more than 485 people simultaneously. That number will not change.

Although he did not speak at the workshop, it was noted that Peter Monro, of KeepPortlandLivable.org attended some of the meeting.  His non-profit is engaged in stopping the construction of the Midtown complex and has filed a lawsuit against  the city in hopes of accomplishing that. He was recruited by Ralph Carmona, a founder of Concerned Citizens. who told mhn.com he did not know what role Monro would play in the opposition to the proposed addition to the building.  Carmona ran unsuccessfully for School Board last fall.