p-martinspoint Heath center expansion could lead to Veranda St. traffic light

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PORTLAND — A neighborhood meeting is scheduled Thursday, Feb. 12, for East Deering residents to discuss Martin’s Point Health Care’s proposed expansion on Veranda Street.
The expansion, scheduled to start in May and be finished by December 2010, will include a 42,000-square-foot medical/clinical office building with two levels of underground parking for 118 vehicles.
The project is expected to generate enough traffic to require a traffic signal at Martin’s Point’s main entrance.
The proposed expansion is a scaled-down version of a 2006 master plan, which called for a two-story medical building of 54,000 square feet, and a separate three-story parking garage for 421 vehicles.
The reduced parking area will preserve the existing buffer of trees and grass along Veranda Street. The building height will vary between 21 feet and 45 feet due to the lay of the land.
Director of Support Services Ann Tucker said Martin’s Point Health Care originally planned to put both its clinical services and administration at Veranda Street. But the rapid growth of administrative services, such as its Medicare and employee health insurance programs, made that arrangement unfeasible.
“That’s just changed because we’ve grown so much,” she said.
Tucker said plans were scaled back when the center moved its administrative services to Washington Avenue, in the former Andover College complex.
Tucker said the proposed expansion is expected to receive the basic level of certification from the U.S. Building Council for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a benchmark for energy efficiency. “It’s just the right thing to do for a health-care facility,” she said.
Although the new building is expected also to encroach upon an existing hiking trail, Tucker said the quarter-mile trail will remain in its current location and be extended to reach Route 1, near Martin’s Point Bridge. Sidewalks will also be improved.
Once the expansion is complete, Tucker said a building now being used for clinical services will be renovated. A healing garden is also planned.
Much of the 11.5-acre property is surrounded by Casco Bay and will have to conform to strict storm water standards.
Before construction can begin, the city’s Historic Preservation Board must
first approve the design, which must conform to
historical standards. The plan must also go through another planning
workshop or public hearing, tentatively scheduled for Feb. 21.
Martin’s Point purchased 4.6 acres for $3 million from the school district in 2006 in anticipation for the expansion.
The neighborhood meeting, which is required by city planners, will take place at 6 p.m. in the Marine Hospital Building at Martin’s Point Health Care, 331 Veranda St.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net.