AUGUSTA — The Maine Army National Guard’s plans for a new 100,000-square-foot headquarters between Civic Center Drive and Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery go to the Planning Board for a public hearing and review Tuesday.
The building would serve as the guard’s new joint forces headquarters, replacing multiple buildings at Camp Keyes on Winthrop Street and Airport Road. It would include offices for about 190 full-time guard employees, most of whom are at Camp Keyes now.
Camp Keyes, which is adjacent to Augusta State Airport, at the top of Winthrop Street in between Airport Road and Blaine Avenue, would continue to be the site for vehicle maintenance and the other non administrative, more industrial uses after the headquarters offices move to the proposed new site.
Peter Rogers, spokesman for the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans, and Emergency Management, said the new headquarters would be better located, more modern and efficient and meet standards for accessibility and security.
“The biggest reason (for the new building) is most of the buildings at Camp Keyes date back, in some cases, to World War II,” Rogers said. “They’re old wood-framed buildings that are very difficult to maintain and heat.”
The new Army and Air Guard headquarters, according to Diane Morabito, a traffic engineer with Maine Traffic Resources, would put an additional 208 vehicles on Civic Center Drive during the peak morning weekday commuting hour when it is fully built out, and 200 during the evening peak weekday commute.
The proposed new entrance to the headquarters would be across Civic Center Drive from Darin Drive.
The entrance to the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery would be moved so the cemetery and headquarters building would share a single entrance at a traffic signal that would be installed at Darin Drive, according to Lt. Col. Normand Michaud.
Darin Drive is the access road to the Augusta Business Park, which includes the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, several state offices, J.S. McCarthy Printers and a number of other businesses.
If approved by planners, Michaud said construction could start in 2015 and be complete in 2017.
The federally funded project is expected to cost about $30 million and be built on about 43 wooded and undevelopeed acres of the 165-acre Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery property.
Some veterans have expressed concern about the project being so close to the cemetery’s grounds. However, officials have said the building and cemetery will be separate from each other, with woods dividing the two parcels.
City staff said one area of concern is the application doesn’t indicate that the Guard has a title or rights to a portion of the land needed for the proposed project.
John Kenney, a civil engineer with WBRC Architects and Engineers, a firm hired by the Guard to work on the project, said in a letter last week to the city the state Department of Transportation was in the process of acquiring the needed title to the land where the new access road and planned new traffic signal, would be built.
The site is in the city’s Planned Development District, where government services are a conditional use, subject to a major development review by the Planning Board.
A public hearing on the proposal is planned for 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.
Planners are also scheduled to hold a public hearing on a proposal to consider allowing social services, including a food bank, in the Resource Development District; hold a workshop session regarding contractor signs and off-site service organization signs and; hold a workshop session to discussion rezoning Riggs Brook Village District.
Keith Edwards — 621-5647 firstname.lastname@example.org