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Watertown city Planning Board approves site plans for Parkside Bible Church expansion

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After a four-month delay, the city Planning Board gave Parkside Bible Church approval to proceed with a 12,500-square-foot multiuse addition at its Eastern Boulevard building.

The Planning Board finally approved the site plans Tuesday for the $1.5 million expansion at 491 Eastern Blvd.

First proposed in October, the project has been hampered by a squabble between Planning Board members and church representatives over the number of trees that can be cut down at the property and a change in the plans that would accommodate the ability of firetrucks to turn around in the church’s driveway.

Stephen J. Olmstead, an engineer with Wilbur Thesier PEPC, Carthage, presented some modified plans Tuesday. Instead of cutting down 43 mature trees, church officials agreed that 20 would remain. To make up for the loss of the others, trees will be planted along Eastern Boulevard, he said.

The driveway from Eastern Boulevard was reconfigured to make room for the firetruck turnaround in case there is a fire at the church.

The Watertown City Council is now expected to give its OK to the site plans at its Feb. 19 meeting.

If that happens, construction will begin this spring and be completed in late fall, Mr. Olmstead said.

“We should be good to go,” he said.

The project was prompted partially by the tripling of the church’s congregation during the past decade, from about 125 people to nearly 400 now. The church embraces military members and their families, with membership split between civilian residents and those with military connections.

The addition will house a lobby and multipurpose room. It will give the church enough space for receptions, concerts and banquets and will be used for the many ministries offered. It will include space for a kitchen and cafe, a new parking lot and a 9-acre parkland and playground.

The new wing will be used often by the youth and adult groups. There will be enough room for Bible studies and a variety of meetings.

The Lundy Group, Carthage, also was involved in designing the project and will be the general contractor, Mr. Olmstead said.

In existence since 1945, the church moved into the building about 40 years ago. It employs three pastors and an administrative assistant.

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