BANGOR, Maine — Husson University students attending Monday night’s regular Bangor City Council meeting got more of an education than they expected.
The normal, one-hour format that the meetings usually take stretched to a little more than two as confusion reigned over legalities and technicalities pertaining to a couple of agenda items and numerous motions made on those items.
The confusion centered on three ordinance changes either dissolving or reorganizing the council’s recycling, harbor and airport committees.
The council voted to dissolve the recycling committee, blend the harbor committee into the Bangor Parks and Recreation committee while expanding it by three members to 12, and retain the airport committee, but not without much debate and disagreement and a lot of legal direction and definition from City Solicitor Norm Heitmann.
In light of Bangor’s inability to adopt a proposed single-stream recycling system and pay-as-you-throw trash disposal plan due to punitively high financial penalties provided in a contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, the government operations committee recommended sunsetting the recycling committee.
Although the vote proposal was made and seconded, Councilor Charlie Longo made another motion to table the vote after Councilor Geoffrey Gratwick said he was concerned it would never be reconstituted whenever the time came when another city-wide recycling plan was possible. Gratwick then seconded the motion and, after much discussion, the tabling proposal was defeated 5-4.
That prompted Gratwick to make another motion, which Longo seconded, to delay the vote until the second council meeting in July. Again, the countermotion failed 5-4. Councilors Gratwick, Longo, Ben Sprague and Nelson Durgin were the dissenting votes in each case.
Finally, the council got back to the original vote on the proposal to dissolve the recycling committee, and the vote was exactly the same, 5-4, with councilors Cary Weston, Susan Hawes, Patricia Blanchette, Joe Baldacci and James Galant voting in the majority.
That shifted the topic of conversation to the harbor committee, but before a vote could be called for and seconded, Longo made a motion to increase the new parks and recreation/harbor committee to 12 members. Even that proposal created confusion as councilors weren’t sure if Longo wanted to change the committee’s size to 12, 13 or 14 members.
After much discussion — and a second of Longo’s motion by Gratwick — Longo’s motion was defeated 6-3. That left a formal vote on reforming the committees, which was approved 7-2 with Longo and Gratwick voting against the ordinance change.
That left the airport committee vote, which took much less time and debate, and was passed unanimously in light of Durgin’s introduction of the ordinance, saying he would be voting against dissolving the committee even though he was originally in favor of it.
“We didn’t anticipate the changes in the airline industry affecting Bangor as well as a change in airport leadership [with Bangor International Airport Director Rebecca Hupp] leaving [to take a job in Idaho],” said Durgin.
The council voted 9-0 against dissolving the airport committee.
It also voted to approve:
- Accept $251,511 in Homeland Security grant funds from the State Homeland Security Program and the Law Enforcement Terrorism Program.
- Accept $54,000 in Assistance to Firefighters Grant Funds and appropriate another $6,100 in Bangor Fire Department reserve funds for the installation of an interconnected fire alarm system for Central Fire Station.
- Accept and appropriate a $36,620 Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Grant from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for watershed cleanup of Penjajawoc Stream.
- Accept a $2,500 grant from the Maine Office of Substance Abuse to participate in a gambling prevention pilot program that will train people from Bangor’s Health and Community Services to provide interventions for people with gambling problems.
- Accept a $6,000 Maine Community Foundation grant to support a home-based children’s asthma education program.
- Authorize a contract for $340,626 to Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. for utility improvements around and in the new Bangor events center.
- Award the Bangor Area Children’s Choir $2,000; the Bangor Museum and History Center $3,000 for its “No Boundaries: Women’s Roles in the Civil War” program; the Bangor Symphony Orchestra $9,350 for overseeing Bangor Symphony Youth Orchestras; and the Penobscot Theatre Company $9,100 for its world premiere of a play titled “Ink.”