BANGOR, Maine — In an effort to streamline, simplify and possibly save some time, energy and money, the Bangor City Council will reorganize two of the three committees city staff members suggested for elimination.
If Monday afternoon’s informal head count is a good indication, the City Council will likely vote to eliminate the recycling committee, merge the harbor committee with the Parks and Recreation Department committee, and leave the airport committee as is for at least six to 12 months.
“The council expressed interest over the months in getting rid of the recycling committee and having that function be taken over by the government infrastructure committee,” said City Solicitor Norm Heitmann.
It was the same idea with the harbor and airport committees, with their functions or responsibilities being taken over by the Bangor Parks and Recreation and business and economic development committees, respectively.
The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, Feb. 13.
With the council’s effort last year to institute a single-stream recycling and pay-as-you-throw trash disposal plan foiled by high monetary penalties incurred as a result of the city’s contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., the need for a recycling committee was lessened.
Councilors’ concerns over the dissolution of the committee leading to no promotion of recycling at all were quelled by City Manager Cathy Conlow’s observation that any issues could be ably handled by those same councilors through the council’s infrastructure committee.
Several councilors also expressed concern over the issues surrounding developing the waterfront and harbor/riverfront being lost in transition, but those were allayed as well.
“It’s basically a merging of the two committees, and they can start promoting the docks, harbor and waterfront together with new ideas,” Heitmann said. “Regarding the worry that the harbor would be forgotten if we restructured the committee, I think Cathy’s point was number one, it won’t be forgotten, and two, we’ve already started looking at opportunities to develop it further.”
Many councilors and city staff members would like to return to having multiple moorings for boaters in the river, but that will have to be ironed out with the Army Corps of Engineers, which has previously designated the Penobscot as an open access channel, which limits how far out moorings can be placed.
“In the past, there was an agreement with the federal government for a waiver to use the channel for moorings and we had as many as 60,” Heitmann explained. “When I came here, there were still a lot out there, but not 60.
“If we can ascertain a demand for them, we can certainly discuss getting an agreement to put them out there.”
The proposal, which the council will vote on in two weeks, is to add the four harbor committee members to the nine-member parks and rec committee.
Most councilors agreed that with the imminent departure of Bangor International Airport Director Rebecca Hupp, who has taken a job offer in Boise, Idaho, it would be best not to change or discontinue the airport committee at the present time.