March 29, 2020

City OKs plan for ex-UMS site to be children’s learning center

BANGOR – The former headquarters of the University of Maine System chancellor will continue to have a role in education, though at a much younger level.

During separate meetings Monday night, the planning board and City Council granted their approval to a redevelopment plan that will turn one of the three buildings at 107 Maine Ave. into a learning center for children.

Liz and Paul Leonard of Brewer are gearing up to open Parkside Children’s Learning Center in January in the so-called Trustees Building, now part of the city’s Maine Business Enterprise Park.

“We already have 30 families on our interest list,” Liz Leonard said before the planning board meeting.

The center will serve about 130 children ranging from 6 weeks through 5 years in age and will have a staff of about 18.

The Leonards also have applied for a traffic movement permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, according to John Theriault of AMES A/E, their traffic engineer.

On Monday, the Leonards received site development plan approval for the reuse of the existing 10,300 square-foot building and permission to add more parking.

They also were granted planned group development for the trustees’ building and two others on the site, namely Auburn Hall, a two-story office building, and Building 26, which used to be a telephone switchboard but was more recently used for storage.

The planned group development approach treats the three buildings as a single parcel so that all have more flexibility regarding parking, buffers, drives and walkways, city planner David Gould said during the planning board meeting.

The entire property comprises five acres, but the Leonards proposed using only a 1.49-acre piece.

As part of the redevelopment effort, the existing central access on Maine Avenue will be eliminated.

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