Bangor Council votes to take possession of abandoned properties, OKs one-year free lease with farmers market

Graffiti has been painted on the boarded-up windows of an abandoned apartment building at 147 Court St. in Bangor.
Graffiti has been painted on the boarded-up windows of an abandoned apartment building at 147 Court St. in Bangor. Buy Photo
Posted Feb. 24, 2014, at 9:58 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 25, 2014, at 8:12 a.m.

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BANGOR, Maine — The city will officially take over a pair of abandoned properties in the city with a history of unpaid taxes after the City Council unanimously voted to move ahead with the seizures.

The city will take possession of 147 Court St., an apartment building next to Coe Park covered in graffiti and plywood to board up the entrances, as well as a vacant lot at 91 Larkin St. Both properties have matured tax liens against them and city officials have been unable to contact or identify the owners.

In past years, the city has avoided going after properties with back taxes, but recently councilors have urged city staff to acquire abandoned properties where possible in order to reduce the number of dangerous eyesores in the city.

The blighted apartment building will be torn down, allowing the city to sell off the buildable lot underneath. The city will enter talks with neighbors of 91 Larkin St. to see if they would like to add that plot of land to their property.

Also during Monday night’s meeting, the council approved a one-year lease for the Bangor Farmers Market’s continued use of the parking lot across the street from Bangor Public Library, at no cost to the market.

The council voted to use this lease proposal to replace one that came out of committee last week, which would have assessed a $25 annual rental fee on the seasonal market. However, that one was a three-year lease. The question of whether to assess a fee on the market sparked a contentious debate among councilors during a meeting last week.

Several councilors said they want to take time to discuss the city’s policy on charging fees for use of city space. Right now, there is no written policy, and the city assesses fees on some groups for use of public space, but not others.

The farmers market organizers said they aren’t opposed to a small fee and want to continue operating near Bangor’s downtown for the long term. Bangor councilors also said they want to ensure the market continues operating in Bangor, but some want to ensure that the city is fair and equitable in whether and how much it charges groups for use of city space.

They will take up that question during a Government Operations Committee meeting in March.

In other business, the council:

— Approved the sale of six acres of land in the Maine Business Enterprise Park to Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems. Eastern Maine Medical Center plans to build a roughly 50,000-square-foot medical office building on the site.

— Authorized a $1.27 million contract with Lou Silver Inc. for the overhaul of West Market Square and the replacement of the underlying utilities. That bid exceeded the amount the city hoped to spend by $335,000, which will be covered by the sewer district. The two low bidders either didn’t have necessary experience or couldn’t meet the scope and schedule of the project, according to the city. Lou Silver was the next lowest and met all the city’s qualifications. City officials have cautioned that traffic will be congested in the area during construction and advise people to consider alternate routes.

— Approved a $1.08 million contract with AQuest Corp. to design and build an aircraft paint facility for C&L Aerospace at Bangor International Airport. As part of the lease agreement between the airport and C&L, the city agreed to pay for a portion of the facility upgrades needed for the company to expand.

 

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