BANGOR, Maine — The concrete barriers and green-hued fence are all in place as construction crews prepare for construction of Bangor’s new arena and convention center.
“You’re going to see an awful lot of mobilization down there in the coming days,” Dan Wellington, Bangor’s code enforcement officer, said Friday. “Right now it’s mostly setup. They’re doing what they call a soft groundbreaking as workers and heavy equipment start rolling in to start prepping the area for groundbreaking.”
A project that has been in the talking stages for years is starting to become a reality as workers ready the site by mobilizing construction trailers and locating the on-site office.
“Cianbro is on-site now and already starting to push some dirt around,” Wellington said. “The first thing you’ll see is a lot of topsoil will have to be stripped away and the trees removed.”
For Old Town native and project manager Jon DiCentes, the arena project is a labor of pride he takes a more personal stake in.
“Right now we’re just mobilizing the trailers and getting the site secured,” said DiCentes, who was also project manager for construction of the Hollywood Slots Hotel and Raceway. “Once we’re ready, we’ll break ground by the end of the month.”
Wellington said he’s not aware of any potential effects on traffic on Main Street or Buck Street, which both run alongside the 200,000-square-foot construction site.
“It’s a large job for Cianbro, but it’s also a good job and I’m from Hampden, so to me this is a big way to take part in community building,” said DiCentes. “I haven’t been part of [the drive for a new arena] for the last 10 years like some, but I’m excited about it because I’m a user of that facility as well.”
The project’s estimated price tag is almost $65 million, but the Bangor city manager’s office confirmed that there is no guaranteed maximum price at the present time. The arena is scheduled to open by Labor Day 2013 and will employ as many as 1,500 people during the course of the construction phase, according to DiCentes.
Much of the early work will involve removing or relocating several fixtures on the site, which encompasses the land immediately surrounding the Paul Bunyan statue in front of the Bangor Auditorium.
The skate park will be dismantled and moved to an approved site on Maine Avenue between the recycling center and Bangor Radiator — possibly on an existing concrete slab that used to be the foundation for a Dow Air Force Base barn — at a projected cost of $55,000. The current gazebo used by the Bangor Band and built in the 1970s will be torn down, the Dr. and Mrs. William Rogers Chapman plaque designating the first performance at the original Bangor Auditorium on Oct. 14, 1897, will be removed and stored for safekeeping until the arena project is completed. The fountain will also be disassembled and the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce will be relocating its offices to 208 Maine Ave. before its current office building is razed.
“I spoke to Jim Ring and I understand that the memorial will be replaced on-site, possibly in one of two garden spots,” said Wellington.
Ring is employed by the city as a consultant. The retired Bangor city engineer is also serving as liaison between Bangor and Cianbro.
The gazebo may be rebuilt near the walking path alongside the Bangor side of the Penobscot River behind Bangor’s Waterfront Pavilion.
The Paul Bunyan statue will not be affected.
Although it’s not related to arena construction, traffic will be affected in coming weeks by an already-planned replacement of an aging water main under Buck Street.
“What we’re doing is replacing 1,300 feet of main from Sunnyside Nursery all the way down and crossing Main Street to tie into 12-inch main at Hollywood Slots, so there’ll be quite a bit of disruption for traffic,” said Bangor Water District general manager Kathy Moriarty.
The current unlined, 8-inch cast pipe installed in the 1930s that leaked this past winter and forced closure of Buck and portions of Main will be replaced with 12-inch, ductile iron pipe.
“We’re considering boring under Main Street to replace and connect the mains, but there are a lot of underground utilities like telephone and electric and gas that may make that impossible,” Moriarty said. “If so, we’ll have to do an open cut across Main Street.”
Work is expected to begin Aug. 8 and continue through the 26th.
“We’re trying to avoid both the Bangor Fair and the [American] Folk Festival, and we tried to coordinate it with the arena plans and the city,” Moriarty added. “With all that in mind, we decided this would be a good time to get it done.”