BANGOR, Maine —The difficulty of entering the new Bangor district office of U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin has triggered accusations that he is insensitive both to the needs of constituents with mobility problems and to the accessibility required by federal law.
“It’s four steep steps down into his office,” Bangor resident Samantha Le said Tuesday. “His office is not ADA compliant,” she said, referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Poliquin’s new office is in Suite 7 inside 4 Union Plaza, a building under the Bangor side of the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge.
“He says he’s all about veterans. Well, a lot of these vets are in wheelchairs,” Le said.
Poliquin spokesman Brendon Conley told the BDN in an email, “Our [Bangor] office DOES have signage on the building for those who require assistance when entering for an appointment.” He added, “Our office has been, and remains, firmly committed to providing members of the public with equal access to the office’s services and assistance.”
This “equal access” includes meeting people who can’t get into the office at other locations, Conley said.
“We have a longstanding policy to meet individuals with mobility disabilities at alternate locations that meet their specific needs,” Conley said.
He said there also is a fully-accessible meeting space in the Union Plaza that can be used, if needed.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and mandates equal opportunities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation.
“We have consulted with legal counsel and we are confident that the office is in compliance with our accessibility obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act,” Conley said.
The two-term Republican congressman representing Maine’s 2nd District recently moved his Bangor location from a first-floor State Street office because more space was needed, his website states.
“Congressman Poliquin’s office has been actively seeking a new space for the Bangor location since last fall,” the website says. “Last summer, the Bangor office’s space was downsized as a result of a neighboring office’s expansion. Later, staff was added to the Bangor office location prompting a search for more space.”
The message about the move quotes Poliquin as saying, “Please be sure to stop by and say hello!”
A photo with the post shows the door to the new office, which lists the hours as 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Le, who said she visits the Bangor offices of Poliquin and of Maine’s senators every week, said those hours were removed from Poliquin’s within the past week. She said that when she walked into the building on Tuesday, she was greeted with a note that states Poliquin’s office is now open by appointment only. When she called the number listed on the note, the call was routed to the lawmaker’s Presque Isle office.