BANGOR, Maine — On the same night city councilors discussed whether to allow a methadone clinic advisory board to sunset, a local businessman and neighbor to one of Bangor’s three clinics challenged councilors to reconsider.
Doug Grant, manager of Classic Tuxedo/Strictly Formal, said a number of concerns related to the Penobscot County Metro Treatment Center in the Maine Square Mall off Hogan Road have gone unaddressed for months.
First, he said parking for customers of his and other businesses has been hard to find because of the amount of traffic served by the methadone clinic. He also said the clinic has been operating much later into the day than it previously had stated. Finally, he said the clinic has hurt his business.
“I think your advisory committee needs to get out and see what is going on,” Grant told members of the City Council’s government operations committee Tuesday. “I’m not against what they are there to do, but the location is the problem.”
Councilors, for their part, said they were unaware of any concerns and were glad Grant came forward. Tim Woodcock, a member of the community advisory group that formed several years ago when methadone clinics came to Bangor, agreed that the problems were news to him.
Donna Higgins, a representative from Colonial Management Group, the Orlando, Fla.-based parent company for the clinic, also said the concerns were a bit of a surprise.
“I hadn’t heard anything,” she said. “I know that we have two security guards and we’ve instructed them to monitor parking areas. I don’t know exactly what the concerns are, but we’ve always felt comfortable talking to stakeholders.”
Counselor Susan Hawes, who sits on the advisory committee, said the city would set up a meeting with tenants of Maine Square Mall, clinic representatives and city leaders in the coming weeks to air the concerns. She said the city still could consider dissolving the community advisory group and then send any problems associ-ated with methadone clinics directly to the government operations committee.
Since the clinic opened in late 2005, it has operated almost under the radar, even as the number of patients has increased steadily. Methadone is a synthetic drug used to treat opiate addiction.
Many community concerns were brought up initially, but most have agreed that those concerns never turned into problems. Police have not reported any major problems at any of the clinics in Bangor. Woodcock said that throughout the course of the community advisory board’s tenure, Colonial Management Group and repre-sentatives of Bangor’s other two methadone facilities have been uniformly cooperative.
Higgins said despite Grant’s claim, the hours of operation have not changed. The methadone doses are still given out between 5 and 10 a.m. Patients still come to the clinic throughout the rest of the day, but only for counseling, she said.
“We want to be good neighbors,” Higgins said “We welcome the opportunity for feedback.”