South Portland board OKs site plan for Municipal Services Facility

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The Planning Board has approved the site plan for a 70,000-square-foot combined city services facility that will house the Public Works, Transportation, and Parks and Recreation departments.

The city’s transfer station currently occupies the land at 929 Highland Ave., which will be developed into the Municipal Services Facility.

The cost of the project, which is expected to be completed in the summer of 2017, is approximately $15.2 million, said Rick Towle, the city’s director of parks, recreation and waterfront.

SMRT Architects and Engineers is designing the project with Sebago Technics. Planning has been going on for about five years, according to Owens McCullough, civil engineer with Sebago Technics. 

Voters approved a $14 million construction bond in November 2013.

The building project will not interfere with possible future plans to install a solar farm at the former municipal landfill, adjacent to the new building.

The site plan proposal, approved by the Planning Board May 26, includes space for snow dumping, a sand and salt shed, school bus parking, fuel station, and a swap shop, which will provide an opportunity for the “public to drop off goods that would be reused by others,” McCullough said.

The fuel station will include two underground, 10,000-gallon fuel storage tanks, to fuel all city vehicles, including fire trucks, ambulances and police cars.

The transfer station will be moved to an adjacent parcel, along with space for recycling and composting. 

The facility itself will provide work space for nearly 30 employees.

The entire site is approximately 17 acres, 17 percent of which will be impervious surface, Planning and Development Director Tex Haueser said. 

An “extensive” storm-water plan has been devised that “meets the city’s highest storm-water management standards,” Haeuser said at the May 26 meeting. The property is within the Spurwink River watershed, which isn’t considered “urban impaired,” Haeuser said.

Some storm water, however, will flow into Barberry Creek, which is impaired.

The proposal will require the alteration of about 130 square feet of wetlands, which doesn’t require approval from the Department of Environmental Protection, but does require the architect to “pay the city a compensation fee (of) $2 a square foot,” Haeuser said at the meeting. 

The project will align with the city’s Climate Action Plan, McCullough said. “We’ve been focused, pretty dramatically, on trying to look at energy efficiency as best we can in the facility,” he said.

Those components include light-emitting diode lighting, solar panels, and possibly thermal-heated water. 

David Lay, architect for SMRT, told the board that the city has also decided to participate in the Efficiency Maine Advanced Building Program. That means the facility will get monetary credit for installing energy efficient features.

“(We’re) still working through our options for fuel,” Lay said, specifically wood chips or pellets. “If they turn out to be economically viable for the city, then we’ll go down that road, but it’s still in analysis.” 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA. 

Sidebar Elements

South Portland’s planned Municipal Services Facility at 929 Highland Ave. will combine the city’s Parks and Recreation, Transportation and Public Works departments under one roof. 

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.