PORTLAND — The Regional Transportation Program plans to build new headquarters on 5.5 acres in Westbrook.
Representatives of RTP, which provides rides for low-income, elderly and disabled residents in most of Cumberland County, went before the Westbrook Planning Board last week with their preliminary proposal.
Based for 35 years at Greater Portland Metro at St. John and Valley streets, Metro’s recent expansion required RTP to find its own facility. RTP has 48 employees and 15-20 volunteer drivers.
The proposal for 1 Ledgeview Drive in Westbrook includes an 8,500-square-foot office building, a two-bay garage and wash station and, if funding can be secured, a 11,760-square-foot parking structure for the RTP bus fleet. Ledgeview, off County Road/Route 22, was first developed in 1987 and is the site of Schlotterbeck & Foss, Maine Credit Union League and the broadcast studios for WMTW.
Jack DeBeradinis, executive director of RTP, said the organization provides transportation to and from appointments, shopping, programming and work, and the bulk of service is concentrated in Portland, South Portland and Westbrook.
Former Portland City Councilor Ed Suslovic, a member of Metro’s board of directors, said the two organizations have worked closely to plan for Metro’s expansion without the immediate displacement of RTP’s operations.
“The challenge for RTP and Metro is as Metro grows, we are adding more buses and now we need to expand our footprint. It has been a collaborative effort to work out a flexible lease with RTP so that they can go and grow into this spot,” Suslovic said of the Ledgeview Drive property.
DeBeradinis said RTP has had a good relationship with Metro since the two organizations began sharing a space in the mid-1980s.
“We certainly understand (their need to expand) and have enjoyed our long-term relationship with Metro,” he said.
DeBeradinis said the goal is to gain final Planning Board approval in March, close on the property by mid-June and start construction shortly thereafter. The hope is to have site work complete by summer 2020.
DeBeradinis said RTP is under a five-year lease with Metro with an opt-put clause that could make the summer 2020 Westbrook operation possible.
The Regional Transportation Program intends to move its operations out of the Greater Portland Metro building on St. John Street in Portland, where it has been based for 35 years.