BANGOR, Maine — After initially receiving eight bids from construction firms ranging from nearly $900,000 to $1.3 million for construction of a permanent Bangor Waterfront concert facility, councilors recommended a $648,000 plan.
Bangor City Council finance committee members Joe Baldacci, James Gallant, Pat Blanchette and Nelson Durgin voted to recommend approval by the full city council, which can vote on the project as early as Monday.
Only councilor and committee member Geoffrey Gratwick voted against approval.
“Maybe I missed a meeting because I wasn’t aware of this,” said Gratwick during Monday evening’s committee meeting. “This seems to be proceeding at a much faster pace than I was aware … and I’m doubting this due to the ongoing discussion we’ve heard about the [concert] noise issues from surrounding neighborhoods.”
Gratwick also had an issue with Waterfront Concerts and promoter Alex Gray not contributing money for the project, which has been budgeted for fiscal year 2013 and will be paid for with funds from the city’s downtown tax increment financing, or TIF, fund.
Gallant said in his opinion, this is the kind of project which the TIF fund was created for.
“The only complaint about the concerts is the noise from nearby residents, and to me this is a way to benefit downtown in both economic terms and noise,” he said. “I wholeheartedly support this.”
Gray has agreed to pay the cost of a comprehensive sound study in the area.
“This is very encouraging because the city is doing what they told me and residents of the west side what they wanted to do,” said Gray. “Bangor’s in position to be the entertainment capital of Maine with the arena, the casino, and the continued development of this facility.”
Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow said this project is the result of several meetings and executive sessions over the last year that followed the city’s inability to reorient or relocate the current stage last fall and point it downtown to alleviate many noise issues due to a much greater-than-expected cost of $600,000. That project involved a temporary stage setup, for which the city had budgeted a maximum amount of $125,000.
“This is the first step toward relocating the stage to better minimize sound and place it in the best position,” said Durgin.
Weston said this is the next step forward in doing the project right with regard to concerns of nearby residents.
“I think this is a win-win all the way around,” said Weston.
Blanchette said it was a two-for-one deal as the work would also lay the groundwork for a community amphitheater nearby the concert facility.
If the council approves the project, low bidder Gardner Construction Enterprises of Bangor can begin construction as early as October with a construction schedule that calls for completion by May.
“The intent was to get it to council Sept. 24 so Gardiner might start right after the last two concerts on Sept. 28 and 29,” said Tracy Willette, Bangor Parks and Recreation Department director.
Gardner’s initial bid of $869,420 was cut back as city engineers and Gray scaled back the initial plan of creating a porous pavement base for a backup stage and dining facility or an underpavement drain.
Willette said overall, this new plan at worst replicates, and at best improves all existing facility surfaces.