FARMINGTON — The Planning Board met at the site of the proposed Emery Art Center on Wednesday to review the building’s footprint and ask questions of the project’s architect and engineer.

The review of the site gave planners and community members a chance to see the plans prior to a public hearing at 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Municipal Building.

The board’s main concerns are drainage, parking and emergency vehicle access.

Concerns raised by Trustees of the Farmington Public Library are being addressed, UMF President Theodora Kalikow said. A conference Wednesday morning with library board members resulted in the university asking its architect to explore further which design could bring an amicable agreement, she said.

For want of a walkway to the library, a 100-plus-year-old tree on or near the property line may not be saved, Kalikow told the Planning Board.

Soil tests were completed Tuesday near the tree and within what is proposed to be the arts quad in what is now a parking lot. All parking spaces around Merrill Hall and Alumni Theater except three handicapped spaces will be eliminated.

Results of the testing may not be available in time for the public hearing, although the engineer told planners there was no need to blast near the library.

The benefits for art patrons and Alumni Theater audiences were pointed out to those attending.

Jayne Decker of Sandy River Players led the group through what is now a narrow backstage entrance for handicapped accessibility. The group crowded into what is now used as a lobby for theater-goers. There’s always a line spilling out to wait in the elements for the January production, she said. Bathrooms and concessions are only available in the theater’s basement. Those problems would be corrected by the encased lobby that is part of the art center plans, she said.

Another voice of opposition was received Wednesday via a letter from the Farmington Historical Society Board of Trustees to the Planning Board regarding the proposed art center’s location within Farmington’s National Historic District.

“We are not against an art center — just the location and design,” President Taffy Davis said.

The contemporary building of glass and white cedar clapboard tightly situated between the library and Merrill Hall, both of which are on the National Register of Historic Places, “does not respect the historical and cultural impact of these buildings,” the letter states.

An anonymous donation of $5 million was given for an art center to be shared by the community and the university, Kalikow told the group. Over a nine-year period, eight sites around the campus were considered, but there is not additional funding for another building. Using an existing wall of the theater helps control the cost of the art center while bringing benefits to Alumni Theater, she said.

“We’re trying to fulfill the wishes of the donor,” she said.

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