Cumberland planners OK school performing arts center

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CUMBERLAND — Construction of a new performing arts center at Greely High School could begin in August.

The Planning Board unanimously approved an amendment to the Greely High School site plan June 20 that will enable the project to go forward. The project has received green lights over the years as the campus has evolved.

Cumberland and North Yarmouth residents last November voted by only a 2 percent margin, 4,149 to 3,953, to borrow as much as $9.5 million to build the PAC.

The 26,000-square-foot center, designed by Stephen Blatt Architects to seat 500, will be built at the rear of the school, on a leveled-off area between the 303 Main St. building and the outdoor track. Detailed information on the project can be found at

“It’s a very contained building site,” Blatt told the Planning Board. “Unlike when we’ve done renovations in the high school and (have needed) to invade the whole place, this is very succinct.”

Construction drawings were nearly complete, he said. Blatt hoped to put the project out to bid in July, and for construction to begin at the end of August.

“We have a series of contractors already pre-qualified by the (Maine) Bureau of General Services,” he said. “Unless it keeps raining we’ll start construction on time.”

The project could be complete in November 2018, according to SAD 51 Superintendent Jeff Porter.

Addressing questions raised at a meeting in March about parking on the site, the Planning Board included among its conditions of approval a stipulation requiring a monitoring survey to be held within the first six months of the building’s occupancy “to evaluate conditions related to parking, traffic, and pedestrian conditions,” according to the project’s June 21 notice of decision.

The Planning Board also calls for a parking management plan which “outlines strategies for managing parking according to event size and conditions,” such as on-site traffic control, remote parking and transport via shuttle bus, and restrictions on when events can take place. A monitoring study must be held annually the first three years of the arts center’s operation.

An additional 58 parking spaces at the front of the building will be built as part of the project. Twelve new trees, along with “a variety of perennials, grasses and groundcover,” will also be planted.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

With approval from the Cumberland Planning Board last month, construction for a new performing arts center at Greely High School in Cumberland could begin in August.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.