June 23, 2018
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Bangor Y demolishes four houses to make room for expansion

By Andrew Neff, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Three down. One to go.

The two-phase expansion of the Bangor Y entered a more active portion this week with the ongoing demolition of four old homes on Sanford Street.

“We demolished three of them yesterday [Wednesday] and we were going to to get the fourth today, but we’ve spent most of our time today on loadout [removing debris from the other buildings],” said Randy Gardner, owner of Gardner Construction of Bangor, which is handling the project. “It will be down tomorrow. We don’t want to leave it with a storm coming up the coast this weekend.”

Gardner said all four — located around a 16 Sanford St. address — were Victorian-style homes he estimated to be well over 100 years old.

“One of them had hand-carved gutters under the vinyl soffits,” he said. “The first house was single family, one was a duplex, and the third was a large single family. The last one’s a very large duplex with three apartments and it’s the biggest of the four.”

Gardner said one of his workmen discovered a copy of the BDN from 1941 in the rubble. It had several World War II headlines and was in very good condition.

Gardner said the work, which has involved an excavator, a bulldozer and two live floor carrier 18-wheeler trucks to haul the debris, should be finished by Wednesday, leaving lawn space where the homes once stood.

The lawn will eventually be covered by a new, 26,000-square-foot building that the Bangor Y will build for a large basketball court facility.

“Phase one was our consolidation,” said Mike Seile, chief executive officer of the Bangor Y. “We wanted to stabilize the organization and part of that was completing a strategic plan to adapt to our environment and changing community needs.”

Community surveys and interviews were conducted before a plan was drawn up to attract more members and to connect Y stakeholders to its identity, according to Seile. Last month, the Bangor Y board of directors approved the plan.

“We want to broaden our membership, in particular by bringing youth and families back to the Y, and make sure we have the assets to do that,” said Seile.

The second phase of the Y’s expansion has no official timetable or estimated cost yet.

“Our capital campaign hasn’t begun yet and we’re still working details out,” said Seile. “We know we want the building to have new workout space, larger locker rooms and land fitness studios, but we need community input and engagement on the more specific features and additions we’re considering.”

Rob Frank, Bangor Y board chairman, said he appreciates the community’s patience and support during the renovation/expansion project, which is now two years old.

“On an interim basis, we cannot say thank you enough to community partners who are sharing their spaces to enable our youth programs such as rec sports to grow within the greater Bangor community,” Frank said in a press release.

Seile said the Bangor School System has provided gym space for youth basketball programs at three schools — Cohen, Downeast and Fairmount — and Bangor Public Housing has made its community center on Davis Road available as well. Columbia Street Church has hosted the Y’s martial arts program.

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