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Climbing gym hits Scarborough Planning Board wall

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Climbing gym hits Scarborough Planning Board wall

SCARBOROUGH — Building an indoor climbing gym on Haigis Parkway has been an uphill battle for Taki Miyamoto, but Planning Board members Monday suggested he is approaching the approval plateau.

In his third presentation to the Planning Board since October, Miyamoto's frustration was evident as board members told him the Haigis Parkway property he wants requires tighter design standards than some other town locations.

"We want to get this project right from the town's perspective and ours," Miyamoto said near the end of a 75-minute discussion, noting he has consulted three architects on his plans.

Miyamoto envisions a facility for experienced and novice climbers, a place families can use for indoor recreation, and that teens can use for exercise and gathering.

The concept has board support.

"I think it would be great for a whole lot of reasons," board member Ron Mazer said. "(But) is this the right building for that particular location?"

Chairman Allen Paul said the site, on the shore of a man-made pond on the western side of Haigis Parkway, just beyond the intersection with Scottow Hill Road, requires an exterior treatment not yet seen in site plan drawings.

"I think it is safe to say every person on this board wants your project to proceed,"  Paul said. "My dilemma is we are talking about one of the prime areas of land in terms of development."

Miyamoto wants to build a 10,000-square-foot building on 1.5 acres, with 100 feet of fabricated metal front wall, sometimes reaching heights of 42 feet, and few windows to break up the building lines.

"We don't want to put something in Scarborough that is sub-par, and in our humble opinion, we think this is not,"  Miyamoto said.

The building length, lack of windows, flat roof and exterior materials will give the building a warehouse look that does not fit design standards in the zone, Paul said, although it would be acceptable on property across nearby U.S. Route 1.

"For me it is not as much the shape as the appearance," Paul said. "If this building was on Lincoln Avenue, you might have been out of here two times ago."

But with interior walls needed for climbing space, and his estimate that adding 5-foot windows would remove 15 feet of wall space on either side, Miyamoto said he would like to keep windows at a minimum.

"I really want people to think vertical, vertical, vertical," Miyamoto said.

Mazer saw progress in the plans and sympathized with Miyamoto's struggles.

"I understand you can only have so many windows," he said. "It defeats the purpose of what you are trying to accomplish."

Paul cautioned Miyamoto the board could "not design the building for you," but board member David Bouffard said using stone on part of the exterior could be a step to breaking up the appearance suitably.

The board also needs to look to the future and what may become of the building, Paul said.

"This building is potentially there for the next 50 or 60 years," he said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.