BANGOR, Maine — An alleged dispute over bath salts and the resulting fatal stabbing of a man at an Elm Street apartment Saturday has revived concerns by neighbors and residents all around Bangor about the ongoing illegal drug issue.
While members of a neighborhood watch group are particularly alarmed, they are quick to point out it’s not just a nightmare on Elm Street.
“I think this is citywide, not just in one neighborhood,” said Pauline Civiello, a recently-elected Bangor city councilor and organizer of the East Side Watch. “It’s a drug and crime issue citywide.
“I read in the paper where they had 22 times where the police came to that residence last year, so that says a lot.”
Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said there have not been any official complaints lodged recently by Bangor citizens regarding drug issue in the East Side area.
Civiello and other elected officials are working with city employees to draft a proposed disruptive property ordinance which would give police more authority in dealing with recurring problems at certain apartments and buildings and make those properties’ owners more accountable.
“That’s been the most-discussed topic at the neighborhood watch meetings I’ve attended,” said Jason McAmbley, Bangor police community relations officer.
David Little, Bangor’s tax collector and deputy treasurer, said in the case of the Elm Street apartment, there is an issue of unpaid taxes. The city has put two liens on the property, but one has recently been removed after the mortgage holder paid the tax bill for that year.
“There are currently two outstanding liens on the property, and the current year’s taxes have also not been paid yet,” Little said. “One is a matured lien for 2010. We’re on our 2013 year.”
Little said the 2011 taxes were paid by the mortgage company. As of Wednesday, the full amount of taxes owed on the property — listed in city records as 78-80 Elm St. and owned by Tim Perry — is $9,788.22 for 2010, 2012, and 2013.
“As of now, 2012 has been liened and 2013 is also outstanding,” Little explained. “We’re working with the same mortgage company and we’re expecting full payment on the 2010 lien.”
The Elm Street properties situation is an example of one that has led civil authorities and residents to call for the enactment of disruptive property ordinance language.
“We had a meeting a couple months ago and we talked about the nuisance landlord ordinance proposal/disruptive properties,” McAmbley said. “That and the methadone clinics are at the top of the list.”
While the recent Elm Street fatality certainly underscores the reason for concern, it is certainly not the only example of problems created by drug use.
“I know that vandalism is an issue, along with burglary, but there are some safety concerns too,” said Civiello, who lives with her husband on Coombs Street. “We’re finding discarded syringes around Abraham Lincoln School and our own yard and driveway. The caps are on, but I have a 6-year-old grandson who went out and took the cap off one of them before I could even get outside.”
The East Side Watch group’s territory runs from Grove to Maple Street and from Garland to State Street, but Civiello said many people interested in joining up have asked about expanding that territory further.
“I think maybe people have started to become frustrated and think there’s nothing they can do,” she said. “This is kind of proactive, I guess. And it’s a way of getting to know your neighbors better in the process.”
It’s also about better vigilance and observation.
“Will this make it better? I don’t know, but if nothing else, at least it’s a way for people to become better acquainted in their neighborhoods,” said Civiello.