Bangor council approves sculpture’s relocation with split vote

Clark Fitz-Gerald's well-known sculpture in Bangor's West Market Square.
Bob Delong | BDN
Clark Fitz-Gerald's well-known sculpture in Bangor's West Market Square.
Posted April 09, 2012, at 11:20 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — After nearly six years of discussion, disagreement and delay, the “Continuity of Community” sculpture that has graced West Market Square for 37 years will be relocated to a different part of the community.

The City Council voted 5-3 at Monday night’s meeting to approve its business and economic development committee’s recommendation to move the 10-foot-wide, 6-foot-tall, elliptical, stainless-steel structure to the end of the Bangor Waterfront bulkhead and remove the fountain that formed its base.

The relocation plan, which was approved 3-1 by the committee last week, got a unanimous endorsement from both the Historic Preservation Commission and the Commission on Cultural Development.

Brian Ames, past Downtown Bangor Partnership board president, and George Kinghorn, University of Maine Museum of Art director and vice president of the Downtown Bangor Partnership board, both came to the podium at City Hall council chambers to affirm their support for the plan, but three councilors were not in agreement with the majority.

Councilor Nelson Durgin was the first to voice his disapproval, noting that he thinks the new location — a location near the intersection of Railroad and Front streets at the end of the steel wall running downriver from the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge past the Sea Dog restaurant and public docks — is less visible than its downtown location at the square at the intersection of Broad, Main and State streets.

“I’m in favor of keeping it where it is, closing Broad Street to vehicle traffic, and removing the fountain while renovating the West Market Square area,” said Durgin.

Councilors Pat Blanchette and Charlie Longo sided with Durgin, citing history and visibility reasons.

Councilors Ben Sprague, Geoffrey Gratwick, Joe Baldacci, Cary Weston and Sue Hawes all voted to approve the move, citing downtown merchants’ desire to have more open space at the square for events such as art shows and concerts. Other factors include a desire to increase safety and improve maintenance and snow removal capability.

The removal and relocation will cost approximately $25,000 in downtown tax-increment financing funds.

The move will be part of the first phase of a waterfront renovation plan which includes pathway construction. Removal may begin later this month and be completed as early as June or July.

Kinghorn said he is hopeful “Continuity of Community” will rest on a 4-foot-tall base as a centerpiece of a “sister city monument” which provides a location for recognition of the city’s significant relationships and events. The idea is for several, smaller monuments to be represented in a circle of boulders around the sculpture.

“Continuity of Community” was completed by Castine resident Charles Battle Fitz-Gerald in 1969 and donated to the city shortly after.

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