A reworked design for the affordable senior housing project planned to replace Waldoboro’s vacant A.D. Gray School was met with resounding approval at the Waldoboro Planning Board meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9.
The planning board unanimously approved the design, presented by Volunteers of America representatives Robert Foster and Brian Sites.
“I think there are a lot of positives to this design,” said board member Barbara Boardman.
Volunteers of America held community forums in response to the feedback on their original design, during which the team received “great input” from Waldoboro residents, said Sites, Volunteers of America Northern New England’s vice president of business development and implementation.
While the reworked design features the same layout and basic plan as the previous design, Foster said, aesthetic changes have been implemented to “soften” what residents had previously described as the “institutional” feeling of the building.
These changes include swapping the brick façade for grey vinyl shingles and adding a mansard roof, which Foster said would help bring down the apparent height of the three-story building.
Tibby Cull, who lives in the neighborhood, said she was “thrilled” by the redesign.
“I love the design also,” said Dana Marqus, another School Street resident. “We’re looking forward to seeing it in the neighborhood.”
The previous design proposal was not met warmly by residents when Foster presented it at a Jan. 26 planning board meeting.
During the Nov. 9 meeting, Waldoboro Planning Board member John Kosnow asked whether any materials from the original A.D. Gray School structure would be repurposed.
Sites said that, to the best of his knowledge, no materials from the original structure would be repurposed in the new building. However, he said that the organization would conserve “a couple hundred” bricks from the old school, as well as the engraved stone inset reading “Waldoboro High School” for use at the town’s discretion in a possible monument or future project.
In response to another question from Kosnow about controlling hazardous materials within the school during demolition, Sites said that asbestos and mold would be removed prior to demolition to minimize risk.
All 36 units will be affordable housing specified for older adults. The exact age bracket eligible will depend on the funding body that Volunteers of America ultimately works with for the project, which has not yet been determined. Sites named the Maine State Housing Authority (MaineHousing) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as two possible funders.
The building plan for the housing project was previously approved at the Waldoboro Planning Board’s April 13 meeting, contingent on approval of a reworked design. The board’s positive reception to the new design on Nov. 9 therefore cleared Volunteers of America to move forward with the development.
The bidding process for demolition ended last week, and demolition will likely be complete by the end of the year, Sites said. An exact demolition date has not yet been set.
Working out funding will require several months, said Sites. Therefore, after demolition, the lot could sit empty until the end of next summer. Sites said that preparations for construction would take place during that period, such as leveling the site of the building and planting grass.
In other business, the board approved an application from Greg Collins, owner of Hillside Collision auto repair shop at 646 Union Road, to construct an addition to his business’ garage.
The steel addition will measure 40 feet by 55 feet and will be used to house Collins’ two tow trucks, which he said he currently keeps outside.
The board also heard a proposal from James and Susan Chlebowski, of 99 Robinson Road, for a “workshop and small event space” on the property. The couple plans to host workshops, which they say will consist of approximately eight to 12 guests, on topics including pig butchery and charcuterie, farming, foraging, and outdoor education.
The maps provided by the applicants were not detailed enough for the board to reach a conclusion, Boardman said.
During discussion, it was revealed that the applicants had already broken ground and begun work on the proposed building’s foundation. As the planning board is not an enforcing agency, no further action was taken during the meeting. The board tabled the discussion pending more detailed property maps of the site and proposed project.
The next meeting of the Waldoboro Planning Board will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14, in the Waldoboro municipal building. For more information, call 832-5369 or go to waldoboromaine.org.