ROCKPORT — Stacey and Jonas Contakos, of Rockport, are hoping the town will approve their idea of building a new 120-foot by 140-foot youth and community movement education facility on land most recently used as a car lot for Herrick’s Garage, on Commercial Street (Route 1). If the Planning Board agrees, this will be the home of the new North Atlantic Gymnastics Academy and HopeAir.
The 19 acre lot will also be available for public hiking and biking trails, the Contakos said in a letter to the Rockport Planning Office.
Meeting March 24, the Planning Board has a number of other agenda items, including a review of new West Rockport Fire Station plan, as well as an Aldermere Farm proposal to build a new barn, and a proposal from Rockport Center LLC, at the corner of Pascal Ave. and Route 1,
North Atlantic Gymnastics Academy and HopeAir
On Thursday, the Planning Board will begin its initial review of the movement education facility project, which also includes a 30-foot by 50-foot garage, and 50 parking spaces. The parking is to include a drop-off loop for cars and school buses.
Already, 30 parking spots exist close to the entrance onto Commercial Street (Route 1).
“It is the hope to offer a portion of the land in the future for public use hiking and biking trails where the existing parking spots will be available,” the Contakos said, in their letter. “The building will be constructed with a ~350’ setback from route 1 for three reasons: the first is to avoid any wetland impacts, the second is to utilize the maximum square footprint exception listed as items 907.3 (A) and 918.C (8) in the Rockport Land Ordinance, and the third is to minimize the visual impact of a building that size on Route 1 by setting it behind an existing area of tree growth.”
An application with the DOT has already been filed, and permits from the Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection are being pursued.
“The owners have contacted Maine Water and the State Fire Marshal’s office to obtain permitting for a sprinkler fire suppression system based on the current water flow from the 16-inch water main along the edge of the property,” the letter said. “Domestic water, sewer, and power already exist on the property. The applicants have been in contact about the project with both Jason Peasley as the Rockport Fire Chief and Scott Bickford as the Rockport Code Enforcement Officer.”
The Contakos have been: “involved in the sport of gymnastics for over 60 combined years and have coached all ages and skill levels from preschool to college and elite level competitors. They have operated North Atlantic Gymnastics Academy in the Midcoast since 2010 and HopeAir since 2018 with an average weekly enrollment of 150-200 participants. Over 70 of those members are on a competitive team and participate in gymnastics anywhere from three to 20 hours per week.”
Currently, the Contakos employ 10 to 15 people.
Jonas Contakos has coached professionally for 25 years. He has a master’s of science in biomechanics and a Ph.D in kinesiology with a focus on child motor learning and gymnastics education. Stacey Contakos was a competitive gymnast for 30 years including being a four-time All-American and athletic hall of fame inductee at Ithaca College. She is a veterinarian and they own the Camden Hospital for Animals in Rockport where she has practiced medicine since 2009.
“Stacey and Jonas would like to recognize the value and appreciation for their current business relationships with the Laurita family related to HopeAir and the Penobscot Bay YMCA related to North Atlantic Gymnastics Academy,” they wrote. “ It is the hope to continue to build those community relationships in a new capacity as they enter a new phase of growth and opportunity for movement education in the Midcoast.”
Aldermere Farm Barn
The nonprofit Maine Coast Heritage Trust, owner of the Aldermere Farm on Russell Ave., is asking the Planning Board to approve plans for a new 62-feet wide and 153-feet long barn, which is to replace six existing structures on the 7 acre parcel. (The overall Aldermere Farm is 75 acres of protected land.)
Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Aldermere Farm Preserve is a working Belted Galloway cattle farm and educational center. Besides breeding the cattle, the farm offers community programs on agriculture and land conservation.
In designing the barn, the farm had planned to remove six of the nine existing buildings, which are aging and in need of repair, the application said. The new barn is to consolidate and make the farm more efficient.
At the lower level of the new structure is to be a 9,175-square foot open-air barn. This footprint also includes a grain room, wash room, storage areas, and a small office. The new barn is also to incorporate a 840-square foot visitors center at the upper level that faces Russell Avenue.
Existing lot coverage is approximately 13,000 square feet, or 4.2% of the parcel. The proposed lot coverage (including the new building, parking and walkways) is approximately 22,780 square feet, or 7.4%. There are no lot coverage restrictions in the Rockport Land Use Ordinance for this district, according to the plans.
The plans also state:
“The objective with respect to landscaping and vegetation is to maintain as much of the existing natural surroundings as possible. Much of the ground surface in the area between Russell Ave and the new barn is ledge, and the intention is for this ledge to remain. This will limit the ability to plant new landscaping in these areas.
“All new retaining walls and fencing will measure approximately 42-inches in height (minimum) on the pedestrian side of the wall or fence.
“Exterior lighting will be cut-off luminaries and comply with the requirements of Section 801.7.4. A cut sheet of a proposed fixture is attached in Addendum No. 3.”
Construction is expected to begin as soon as possible, and be completed within one year.
West Rockport Fire Station
Built in 1973, the existing West Street Fire Station is to be torn down. The town plans to construct a new fire station on the expanded fire station lot at the corner of routes 90 and 17 in West Rockport.
The new building will be sited behind the existing station. The existing station will be demolished after the new station is completed.
Amanda Austin of 2A Architects, LLC, drew plans for the building, which is to house up to four fire engines or EMS vehicles, as well as provide sleeping accommodations and a meeting room for firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
The structure is to cost approximately $2 million.
According to plans submitted to the Town, the fire station would be approximately 5,000 square feet in size; additional parking spaces would be added to Route 17 side of the structure.
Rockport Center LLC
Douglas Clayton, a managing member of the Rockport Center LLC, owner of 330 Commercial Street (former Fuller Chevrolet and currently home to two separate businesses), wants to add two new projects at the site:
1) Relocate onto the site a 22-foot by 32-foot log cabin that once sat on Ducktrap Mountain at the former MBNA corporate retreat (the cabin has been moved down to Rockport from Northport to the former car lot). Clayton said he proposes to put the cabin between, and in line with, the existing buildings on the site, on posts.
His intention is to rent it as a general commercial building. The cabin would hook to the town sewer and water.
2) Build out the 40-foot by 60-foot basement of the original building and create more professional offices or salons for hair stylists, massage therapy, and health-related services.
The former car lot is 3.9 acres in size and has lot coverage 59.89 percent, given the asphalt.
Clayton is proposing to remove 17,000 square feet of the asphalt in the rear and west sides of the parcel.
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