By LISA CAPOBIANCO
The Memorial Boulevard Community Cultural Center project is officially in the design phase.
Last Thursday, the Memorial Boulevard Building Committee voted to move forward with design documents for phase one of the project, which includes a 750-seat theater and other upgrades.
The committee also made a motion to allow engineering and public works staff to move forward with a contractor to conduct a survey of the project site to prepare for the site plan.
“A topic of a lot of conversation has been site work,” said City Purchasing Agent Roger Rousseau. “I think that will really help engineering in bringing it forward to make sure we have something presentable towards Planning and Zoning.”
During the meeting, City Engineer Ray Rogozinski said parking remains a challenge for the project. With a 750-seat theater, a total of 250 parking spaces would be required, along with an additional 227 spots for the rest of the building.
But Rogozinski said the city’s zoning regulations have a provision that takes that total number of parking spaces down to 352.
“The engineering department has really been looking at the site,” said Rogozinski.
Engineering staff also have created a site plan that includes 240 parking spaces between the existing parking lot of the former Memorial Boulevard School and the Willis Street area, added Rogozinski.
With approval from the committee, Rogozinski said the engineering department will work with the land use office, the Zoning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals to create a solution that would allow the city to move forward without the need to construct more parking spaces.
“It’s a conceptual site plan,” said Rogozinski, adding how the survey will be critical to address parking.
Another issue addressed during the meeting was hazardous or regulated materials inside the 1921 building. As the architect moves forward with the design phase, Rousseau said controlling regulated materials will affect the overall cost of the project. The committee approved to contract with Eagle Environmental.
“It would be prudent for us to further engage Eagle Environmental to work hand-in-hand with engineering and the architect to make sure that as they’re planning spaces to come into here, we know what specific areas will be impacted,” said Rousseau. “Then we can test where those areas are.”