City fills additional three spots on Dorothea Dix committee

Posted Feb. 02, 2012, at 6:27 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The last three members to be added to the Bangor City Council’s advisory committee on the future of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center have been confirmed.

The addition of Lonnie Gould, Katharine Storer, and Sofia Wilder completes the committee membership at 16, gives it a broader perspective, and allows it to get down to business in the effort to fight a Maine legislative proposal to close one of Maine’s two public psychiatric facilities, the city said in a press release.

“There was concern by the [City] Council that a consumer voice wasn’t being represented on the committee after it was originally formed,” said Shawn Yardley, Bangor’s director of Health and Community Services. “This is the council’s response to that concern.”

“I think these members will be great additions and give us an additional perspective that will benefit us as we move forward in this process,” Yardley added. “The more voices and perspectives we have, the better off we’ll be.”

The committee’s first meeting, open to the public, will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, in Bangor City Council chambers.

“I think the next step is to figure out how we use the information and efforts that have gone on the last 20 years to create a strategy moving forward in terms of advocacy, alternative use, and better efficiency of the Dix Center,” Yardley said.

One possible alternative use, which may also generate funding for the center, is using about 100,000 square feet of unused space at the center for some kind of housing.

“Bangor currently has a transitional and supportive housing shortage and a difficulty in accessing it for people with mental health and wellness issues,” Yardley said.

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