Hill Sees Revised Plans for St. Lawrence Theater at Meeting Tonight; Parking Concerns Rule

A Modern Addition to the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress Street, Was the Subject of a Meeting Tonight.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,233)

About 100 neigbors on the Hill saw the  revised  and conceptual plans for the rebuilding of the sanctuary of the St. Lawrence Church at an informational meeting tonight at the East End  Community School.  The plans unveiled at tonights meeting were revised from the preliminary plans presented to the Historic Preservation Boad meeting last week.  At that meeting the Historic Preservation Board recommended the preliminary plans be revised to be less boxy and reduce the height of the building overall so as to fit better in the neighborhood.  These plans shown  gave the building a less boxy appearance by reducing the height and making the Promenade Room on the top less prominent than previously shown at the Board meeting; although some still disagreed that the building fit into the neighborhood.  (For more background on that meeting, please see Post # 1,230, dated December 5, 2012  herein.)

Following a presentation by St. Lawrence staff members, Deidre Nice and Julia Kirby, David Lloyd, architect for the project, gave a power point presentation to the SRO crowd at the East End Community School in which he included the revisions described above.  Despite that presentation,  several complained about the renderings in local newspapers that left the impression  the boxy sketches were the final plan.  Architect Peter Bass explained that this was only the first step in a 3 step process in which there will be plenty of opportunity for feedback from the community.  “This is only the first step in the process,”  emphasized Deidre Nice, long-time executive director of the St. Lawence Arts Center.

Parking concerns appeared to dominate the concerns brought up by residents of the Hill.  One resident said that the Hill has changed since the St. Lawrence began to be developed in the 90′s.   There are more businesses in the area which need parking now.  Nice said that the planning board approved its satelite parking plan in 2010 as part of a contract zone and it will be revisited again at the appropriate time.  Jamie Parker, Hill resident:  “We can’t structure this whole project around parking on the Hill.  If that’s so, you might as well live in Pownal or Phippsburg or some other similar place.  Don’t let parking decide what we build here.”