Bangor staff reviews public input on neighborhood revitalization effort

By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff
Posted March 09, 2012, at 6:28 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Now that the preliminary vision for a Main Street corridor revitalization plan — and public comment and questions on it — have been heard, it’s time for Bangor city staff members to roll up their sleeves and craft an actual plan.

They have a self-appointed deadline of mid- to late April, when city staff members will present a draft plan to redevelop the area bordered by Main, Buck, Third and Union streets to residents of the neighborhoods affected.

“We will have another neighborhood meeting [at that time] to outline our draft outline plan before it goes to the business and economic committee,” said Rosie Vanadestine, assistant community development director for Bangor. “Then we’ll hold a public hearing for the final draft of the plan May 9 at City Hall in council chambers.

“If everything goes well with that, it will go to full City Council for approval, and then HUD [U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development] has to approve it.”

Bangor held its second public meeting concerning its neighborhood revitalization strategy at James Doughty School on Thursday night. It didn’t draw the same crowd as the first, but city staff members still heard plenty of questions, suggestions, complaints and even praise.

“I think the turnout was great. Typically you have a much smaller turnout the second time around,” said Vanadestine. “I only saw maybe like two people I recognized from the first time, so we were very pleased with the turnout.”

The city’s revitalization effort is focused on increasing property values, safety, infrastructure and security in the area through a variety of means.
Among them are: constructing walkways and parks, changing ordinances and codes, encouraging more single-family dwellings and discouraging absentee-landlord apartment buildings that are not properly maintained.

While Thursday’s 90-minute session drew many of the same comments heard at the first one last month, some new issues also were raised by the 65 residents present.

Those issues included areas — such as a space behind the former Movie Gallery on the corner of Third and Union streets — where people gather in the warm-weather months, drinking and disturbing the peace; transients sleeping in hallways at some area apartment buildings; pedestrians cutting through private property to get from one street to another; high-volume traffic accident areas; and low-visibility corners and intersections that impede drivers’ vision.

Vanadestine, who is serving as facilitator and department liaison for the revitalization project, said representatives from all relevant departments met Friday to review public feedback from both meetings.

“We split those comments all up by department to send it to the right place so they could respond directly to them individually,” Vanadestine said. “We’ll be coming back with responses to put into the plan over the next couple weeks.”

The entire Main Street corridor revitalization effort may take several years to implement fully.

“A lot of people have asked why we’re stopping at Third Street and not going further, but the area we’re targeting now, well, we’ve bitten off more than we can chew,” said Bangor Planning Officer David Gould, referring to the city’s ability to do all the revitalization work in the area at once.

The project likely will be implemented in phases, particularly as funding becomes available.

To that end, Bangor now expects an estimated $998,313 community development budget funded primarily by HUD entitlement grant money and repayment of loans made through the city’s Community Development Residential Property Rehabilitation and Business Development loan programs.

“We will be targeting a large portion of that money for the plan, but not all of it, and we don’t have a final amount because we don’t even have a budget yet, but we must have one to submit to HUD in May,” said Vanadestine.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/09/news/bangor/bangor-staff-reviews-public-input-on-neighborhood-revitalization-effort/ printed on September 18, 2014