SOUTH PORTLAND – A year after receiving voter approval, the city of South Portland is beginning to move forward on construction of its new municipal services facility off Highland Avenue.

The $15.5 million project will be built in two phases on property in front of the former landfill. The first will be construction of the new transfer station, along with site work, including construction of a new access road.

The second phase will include construction of the facility that will include administrative offices for public works, the parks and recreation department and the transit service, along with fleet maintenance bays and more.

Bid documents for the transfer station will be ready by late winter or early spring and construction is expected to run between May and November of 2015, according to Rick Towle, director of parks and recreation, who has the lead role on the project.

The new transfer station would include composting, recycling and likely a swap shop, according to the current plans, along with a place for bulk waste and brush and other yard debris.

Then, the bid documents for the combined building would be ready by January 2016 and construction would start in May or June, with a goal of having the facility ready to move into by March 2017, the City Council was told during a workshop held last week.

Owens McCullough, the lead engineer on the project for Sebago Technics, said the goal is for the new municipal services facility to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly, including the possible use of solar or geothermal heating and cooling.

Scott Laflamme, the assistant project architect for SMRT Architects and Engineers, said the project team has done “a lot of homework to make sure there is space for everything” in the new combined facility.

He also said the goal for the exterior was to create a “modern industrial look,” which would be quite distinctive from other recent municipal buildings built in South Portland.

In all, Laflamme said the facility would “have lots of shared space,” including a common room that could accommodate rolling beds, locker rooms with showers, meeting rooms and more.

McCullough said the design team is still working on finalizing all the details and total construction costs and said that before ground can be broken on the project the city must get a site location permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

Overall, he said, the design team would work in partnership with the city to “get the best facility we can.”

In November 2013, South Portland voters approved a $14 million bond to build the new municipal services facility. The remaining $1.5 million needed for the project will come from a variety of other funds and grants, McCullough said at the Nov. 12 workshop.

As for reuse of the public works garage on O’Neil Street, City Manager Jim Gailey said his goal is to hold a public meeting to get input from the neighborhood on what they would like to see on that 6-acre lot.

“I know a lot of the neighbors have an interest in the reuse of that (facility), so I would see reaching out and getting public input,” Gailey said.

McCullough said that because the site has been used as a public works facility, any reuse of the property would likely require at least a soil contamination remediation plan, which needs to be approved by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Although there is still a lot of work to be done to see the new municipal services facility come to fruition, Towle told the council, the project team is “focused and excited” about creating a “multifaceted, consolidated facility that will help all the departments to function more efficiently.”

Proposed site layout for South Portland’s new municipal services facility and transfer station. Images courtesy of Sebago Technics and SMRT Architects and EngineersThe exterior of the South Portland’s new municipal services facility will have a “modern industrial look” similar to this building. 

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