An overhaul and expansion of Sawyer Arena, citywide festivals, bike and walking paths, a boutique hotel, and a community art space were among the ideas floated by neighborhood teams during a citywide competition on Tuesday.
The Innovative Neighborhoods competition pits residents from five neighborhoods against each other to brainstorm ways to make Bangor the best small city in the U.S. — with the winning projects selected by residents via an online poll in October.
Each team is tasked with coming up with one idea to improve its own neighborhood, and one idea to help the city as a whole.
The teams have been working on their ideas since April and spent Tuesday evening talking about the practical and financial challenges of launching them at Blaze restaurant.
The Fourteenth Street School district team wanted to create a festival where musicians and bands hold shows on porches throughout the city on the same day. It also suggested transforming Sawyer Arena into a large community center and building an extra ice rink there to allow hockey tournaments and places to work out.
“Sawyer Arena is in our neighborhood and is in dire need of upgrading and expanding to meet the needs of residents of the community,” said Erica Caron. “Our thoughts were to make it a multigenerational destination with fitness sort of opportunities for many different age groups.”
Bangor Savings Bank Senior Vice President Scott Blake, who walked from table to table giving teams advice, suggested that Caron identify any competition, start thinking about who would oversee the arena, and brainstorm ways it could make money to be self-sustaining.
Husson University Data Analytics Professor Bradford Dykes and Bangor residents Chris Dalton and Lance Blackstone, who both work in the software development industry, also gave the two- or three-member teams advice on improving or moving forward with their ideas.
The teams are divided up by the city’s five elementary school districts. Bangor Daily News reporter Matthew Stone is the team coordinator for the Vine Street School district team.
Residents from the Abraham Lincoln School district wanted to create a curbside composting pickup program for their citywide project but were still undecided about the neighborhood project they wanted to pursue. Their ideas included starting a neighborhood library that lends out various power or hand tools, a club where residents help each other out on home projects, and opening a new upscale boutique hotel.
“Each one has their own challenge which is why we’re stuck on deciding which one’s the best of the three,” said Aubrae Ramiak, a Madison Street resident. “I think the common challenges is who is going to run these or implement them.”
Other ideas from various groups included: building a bike lane along Buck Street that would connect to an existing path along the waterfront, a new community art space at a lot behind Geaghan’s Pub, a new walking trail around the Fruit Street area, historical walks, and monthly festivals throughout the city, among others.