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Longfellow school community reacts to possible renovations

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Longfellow school community reacts to possible renovations

PORTLAND — About two dozen people showed up with suggestions at the second of five public forums on elementary school improvements in Portland.

Oak Point Associates representatives presented four options for improvements to Longfellow Elementary on Monday night. They asked for feedback before a final proposal is submitted to the School Board in May.

As a part of the city's Buildings for our Future Program, which aims to improve five elementary schools, Oak Point over the next several weeks will be presenting plans for renovations at Lyseth, Reiche, Presumpscot and Longfellow Elementary Schools and a completely new building for Hall Elementary.

The public forums offer a chance for parents and community members to provide input on the projects before voting on them as a complete, $46 million package in November.

In earlier public forums, Longfellow parents and staff suggested a need for a separate gymnasium and cafeteria, more storage for teachers and students, locker rooms, and a dedicated computer lab. All of the designs presented by Oak Point featured many of these aspects.

Norman Lemire, project coordinator, said many of the concerns the company wanted to address in the plans for Longfellow included site safety, bus and car circulation, storm-water issues on the playground, minimizing playground impact, a more integrated and accessible entrance, special education spaces and the addition of gym and cafeteria spaces.

The four plans presented had different variations on an addition to the library, gym and cafeteria spaces, as well as different plans for the outside spaces.

Attendees were receptive to all of the plans, but a major focus was maintaining the front facade and entrance to the building. One of the options moved the entrance to the right side of the school, where a gym addition was proposed. While the public was receptive to that idea as a whole, people asked if Oak Point could keep the front entrance the same and use the proposed side entrance as a secondary entrance.

Longfellow Principal Dawn Carrigan said she would be happy with any of these plans, but she suggested maximizing play space when planning for the renovations.

“I think it is a win-win and no matter what happens we are going to have a really phenomenal facility in Deering Center,” she said.

There are three other public forums on proposed plans over the next two weeks:

• March 21 at 6 p.m. at Reiche Elementary School, 166 Brackett St.

• March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at hall Elementary, 23 Orono Road.

• And April 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Presumpscot Elementary School, 69 Presumpscot St.

All plans for the elementary schools will be posted on the district's Buildings for Our Future website as they are presented.

To provide feedback on the plans or to ask questions about the project e-mail Oak Point Associates at buildingsforourfuture@oakpoint.com.

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.