ELLSWORTH, Maine — City officials got a preliminary look Wednesday night at a proposal to develop a 91-bed senior living facility next to the former Moore School.
The proposal is to construct a 63,600-square-foot building on ball fields just north of the former State Street school. Since the school closed in 2009, the building has housed the Downeast Family YMCA day care program, Faith in Action’s senior programs, and community events.
The senior living center, to be called Seaport Village Healthcare, will have a rehabilitation wing and an assisted living wing built on 2.5 acres being purchased from the city. It will have an employee and service entrance on Oak Street, where two city-owned basketball courts are located. The city is looking to move the basketball courts to another location closer to Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School.
First Atlantic Healthcare is paying $70,000 to the city for the land and giving the city the Collier’s Healthcare building it owns nearby on Birch Avenue. The operations at Collier’s will be moved to the new senior living site. City officials have not decided how to use the Collier’s property.
Glenn Felch, a Birch Avenue resident, said during the planning board meeting Wednesday night that there are several aspects of the Moore property project that may affect his abutting residential property. Drainage, fencing, lighting, the exterior appearance of the senior living center and the possibility of ledge having to be blasted all were things that he and his wife could have concerns about, he said, depending on how the project moves forward.
City and First Atlantic officials told Felch they did not yet have any information about those aspects of the project but that they would take his concerns into consideration as the application moves through the municipal review process.
The main entrance of the senior living center will be off State Street, where the main entrance to the former school is located. Vehicles will not be able to cut through the property between State and Oak streets.
Parking between the former school and State Street will be expanded, with the steeper end of the building’s existing C-shaped driveway being closed off. A retaining wall will be built along State Street to expand the parking area in front of the school.
The city is planning to renovate the former school and enclose an existing courtyard area while the senior living center is under construction. According to city officials, the renamed Moore Community Center will have a cafeteria, dining area, theater and other facilities that will be available for use by the public.
Additional parking for both the community center and the senior living facility will be located between the two buildings. In all, 158 parking spaces are planned for the entire site.
First Atlantic Healthcare’s appearance before the board involved just a sketch plan review, so the board made no decisions about the proposal. The plans were presented to the board so that residents and officials could learn more about the proposal and officials with the health care firm could get initial feedback on the project.
The planning board is expected to weigh in on the merits of the senior living and community center renovation projects, and whether they should receive municipal approvals, at a later undetermined date.