The three final sites in the prolonged process to determine where a new city shelter should be located were vetted this afternoon by the Health & Human Services and Public Safety Committee. The three final locations under consideration are 654 Riverside Street, County Way and Angelo’s Acre.
Jeff Levine, Director of the city’s Planning Department gave an overview of the three properties. Rob Parritt, former Director of the Oxford Street Shelter and currently a part-time consultant to the city, reported the results of his survey with potential 20 providers who might be called upon to service the shelter, wherever it is located. Rob was seeking their feedback on the properties. There was some concern abut the possible closeness to the Cumberland County Jail. The Riverside location appears to be the “weakest” because of its remoteness and it is in a flood zone. County Way is zoned for light industrial, but is located near the Cumberland County Jail. Angelo’s Acre located on West Commercial Street would have to be set close to the Street according to city manager Jon Jennings who attended the meeting. The property is currently used as an inexpensive parking lot which is close to full during the summer time. Brian Batson, an employee of Maine Medical Center, led the Committee discussion and questioning of the staff on issues on environmental concerns of each the properties as well as other safety concerns.
For example, contrary to staff concerns, Batson emphasized that several of the three final sites, were subject to heavy traffic patterns that could be very dangerous to shelter residents. A staff member raised the issue of being close to the ocean where drownings could happen. Batson pointed out that the property on West Commercial Street known as EIMSKIP was gated property,making it difficult to gain entry to the waterfront. Batson said he’d be more concerned about traffic issues, than someone drowning in the ocean. Batson asked that “traffic patterns” be included in future analysis. No one objected to his request.
It was determined that County Way has lead contamination and additional testing would be needed according to Jon Jennings. He also said that an engineer would be needed to assess suitability of the properties. A “significant” amount of money would need to be spent before “construction of the building” could begin. He also told hands flylng Belinda Ray, chair of the Committee, that the building would probably have to have two stories in order to accommodate what was anticipated by the Committee. The first floor could be about 30,000 sq. ft. and the upper floor about 20,000 sq. ft. The latter could be used for administrative offices.
A public hearing has been scheduled Tuesday, Marcy 26, at 5:30 pm at city council chambers in city hall. This will be the public’s first opportunity to comment on the three sites mentioned previously.
Dawn Stiles, formerly the head of the Health & Human Services Department at city hall left her position several weeks ago. She is replaced by Kristen Dow, who has been with the city for almost 15 years.