FARMINGTON — Planning Board members walked the footprint of two proposed new buildings Wednesday.

One was the site of the new Emery Community Arts Center at the University of Maine at Farmington and the other was a block away at the site of the new elementary school in the Mt. Blue Regional School District.

A smaller group including board members, university personnel and a few residents reviewed the revamped plan for the art center during this second site visit. Architect Scott Slarsky of designLAB Architects described a longer building running adjacent to the west side of Alumni Theater and Dearborn Gymnasium.

Several components have stayed the same, he said. Those include a 100-seat multipurpose performance area, large barn doors opening onto the campus green — an area between university buildings on High and Main streets — and an art quad off Academy Street with a dropoff/pick-up loop.

While the large, partially-glassed lobby encasing Alumni Theater previously planned has been changed, the new plans include an entrance to the center from the Academy Street side that will provide handicap access and a better, less congested lobby area for Alumni Theater.

Concerns were few, but some members questioned firetruck accessibility from Main Street and parking.

The new plans provide direct access to the Arts Center with another entrance from a current parking lot behind the psychology building or what was a Methodist Church and Brinkman House, Slarsky said.

“We’ve made a big compromise . . . a costly one in terms of time and effort,” UMF President Theodora Kalikow said about the changed plan.

Moving the center around to the side of Alumni Theater and lengthening the building creates issues dealing with the walkway and entrances behind Dearborn Gymnasium, Slarsky said. “But once you’ve designed it three times, it should be pretty easy,” he said.

The board will continue its review of the art center plan at its Sept. 14 meeting.

Moving on to the proposed lot behind the Mallett School, the board walked the proposed layout of the 39,800-square-foot new school. Engineers Bo Kennedy and Robert Woodman from DeLuca Hoffman Associates of South Portland marked corners of the proposed building to give board members a better idea of the building’s parameters.

Susan Pratt, assistant superintendent for the Mt. Blue district, told members bids would be opened in February 2010 with construction expected to start in late February or early March.

Construction is expected to be finished in June 2011 and plans include demolishing the Mallett School during that summer, she said.

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Planning Board members reviewed the new plans for the Emery Community Art Center with the project architect and engineer Wednesday on the campus of the University of Maine at Farmington.


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