WATERVILLE — Work to start turning Fran Purnell Field on Mathews Avenue into a $1.2 million miniature replica of Chicago’s Wrigley Field will start in late July after the Planning Board Monday voted to approve a final plan for the project.

The new field, which will be called Purnell-Wrigley Field, will include synthetic turf suitable for children with physical disabilities, new dugouts and a new concession and public address building with restrooms.

Board members Jessica Laliberte, Paul Lussier and Bruce White voted to approve the plan; David Geller voted against it; and Chairman Nick Champagne and his father, Mark Champagne, abstained, as they have done or will do work on the project.

Geller said Tuesday that he favors the project but voted against approving the final plan because several items required in it were not included. The required items include details about visual screening, buffers and landscaping; where trash receptacles and field lights will be located; and how they will be screened.

There also was nothing in the plan to show how and during what hours a public address system will be used so as to ensure decibel levels do not infringe on neighbors, according to Geller.

He said the zoning ordinance requires recreational facility plans to include all that information, yet it was not included. While those planning the field improvements said they would include landscaping, buffers and the like, none of that information is in the plan, Geller said.

“How can we approve a project if the plan doesn’t mention it?” Geller said.

The Alfond Youth Center is working with the city on the field, which the city owns. Organizers say the field is 50 feet from Mathews Avenue and it will be reoriented and moved another 75 feet to the north as part of the plan for improvements. The parking area will be tripled in size as a result of that change.

Ken Walsh, chief executive officer of the Alfond Center, said Tuesday that the city’s Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments will, as part of in-kind contributions, do the demolition work, valued at $350,000; and Central Maine Power Co., with help from D&L Electric, will move utility poles, for an $80,000 value. Mid-Maine Technical Center students will construct the building, for a value of $50,000 to $75,000; and the Alfond Center is applying to the National Guard for help with building a parking lot and possibly dugouts and a playground, according to Walsh.

The Harold Alfond Foundation gave a $250,000 challenge grant for the field improvements; Skowhegan Savings Bank, $10,000; Kennebec Savings Bank, $20,000; Bill Mitchell of GHM Agency, $25,000; Northeast Turf pledged $150,000; and Central Maine Motors Auto Group also pledged an undisclosed amount, according to Walsh. He said he is applying to Major League Baseball for a grant that would be anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000.

The project now needs about $200,000 in cash to do phase one of the project, which will include the site work, laying down the turf and installing fences. Phase two includes in-kind support including building dugouts, installing bleachers and putting in a scoreboard, press box and concession stand, according to Walsh.

He said the Chicago Cubs replaced their bleachers this winter and the old bleachers were offered to Walsh for the field, and he accepted. He said a truck delivering blueberries from Maine will pick up the bleachers in about a week and bring them to Waterville. A groundbreaking will be held Sept. 7 at the field, and Ferguson Jenkins, Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer, is expected to attend.

Waterville Parks and Recreation Director Matt Skehan said Tuesday that his department and public works will carry out demolition work from the end of July until the middle of August so the turf field can be installed in mid-September.

“We’re real excited about it,” Skehan said. “We think it’s a great project to partner with the Alfond Youth Center. From the city’s perspective it’s a winner, for sure, and we’re going to work hard to address any and all neighborhood concerns. We always have and we always will.”

In other matters at Monday’s meeting, four board members voted to recommend to the City Council that the only restrictions relating to medical marijuana be the prohibition of medical marijuana dispensaries, caregivers and collectives in the downtown business district. That district is bordered by Sherwin Street to the south, Elm Street to the west, Union Street to the north and the Kennebec River to the east.

Laliberte, Bruce White and the Champagnes voted in favor, Paul Lussier abstained and Geller voted against the motion, made by Laliberte.

Geller said he voted against it because collectives aren’t allowed under state law and prohibiting something downtown that already is prohibited in the entire state is unnecessary. Geller added that he understood the City Council asked the Planning Board for a recommendation on medical marijuana dispensaries, not all marijuana activities.

“I would have voted against it anyway, because I don’t see how prohibiting a dispensary downtown would be necessary. I don’t see the limitation as something that would be justified. I don’t see that as serving any purpose.”

Lussier said Tuesday that he withheld his vote because he doesn’t really know enough about medical marijuana to make an informed decision.

“I knew that by abstaining, it wouldn’t impact the in-favor vote,” he said.

The board also voted to recommend the council create a new zone that would combine permitted uses of the Downtown Industrial Zone with setback requirements of the Institutional Zone, with the existing building exempted, for the former Seton Hospital property, on Chase Avenue. <URL destination=”https://www.centralmaine.com/2016/05/17/waterville-council-approves-tif-for-former-seton-hospital-property/”>Developer Tom Siegel wants to build 55 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as commercial office space and warehousing in the building.

</URL>The board was asked to consider rezoning the property from Institutional to Downtown Industrial to allow for those uses in the building.

The board also voted to approve a final plan for an addition to Grossman Hall at Colby College to create The Center for Post Graduate Success.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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