December 18, 2017
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Bangor City Council to consider Waterfront Concerts contract, moratorium on psychiatric facilities

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Ashley L. Conti | BDN
Bangor City Hall is seen, June 22, 2017.

City councilors will vote on a 10-year contract with Waterfront Concerts and also consider a moratorium on secure psychiatric facilities during its next regular meeting on Monday night.

The city has negotiated a 10-year contract with Old Town-based concert promoter Alex Gray, Council Chairman Joe Baldacci said Wednesday.

Among other things, the deal will increase the fees paid per ticket to the city and continue the monitoring of sound levels. The city this year received $1.375 for each concert ticket sold. The city’s share will increase by 1.5 percent each year if the contract is approved.

The new agreement calls for a minimum of 10 shows per year and for Waterfront Concerts owner Gray to work with the city to improve restroom facilities. Portable toilets are now used.

Eleven concerts were scheduled in 2017.

Waterfront Concerts has been operating under the terms of their past contract since it ended in November. The prior contract was for five years.

The concerts generated about $48 million for Penobscot County’s economy between 2010 and 2013, according to a 2015 study by University of Maine economics professor Todd Gabe.

The other major matter on Monday’s meeting agenda is the proposed moratorium on psychiatric facilities comes in response to Gov. Paul LePage’s plan to build a 21-bed “step-down” forensic psychiatric facility on Hogan Road.

Residents bashed the plan during a recent public hearing that drew about 80 people.

The LePage administration says the proposed Bangor facility will alleviate overcrowding at Augusta’s troubled Riverview Psychiatric Center, which lost its federal accreditation in 2013 because of overcrowding, inadequate staffing, and for using handcuffs and stun guns to subdue violent patients.

While some noted the facility was needed, none of the residents who spoke out during the hearing thought the state-owned Hogan Road site was appropriate as it is located near an apartment complex and single-family homes.

The moratorium, if approved, would provide the city a six-month delay for the project during which it would study the potential effects of the facility and develop standards for it, such as buffers, setbacks and security measures, or during which it could rezone the parcel on which the psychiatric facility would be built.

With the approval of two-thirds of the council, the moratorium could become effective immediately, according to City Solicitor Norman Heitmann.

The state last month tapped Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield to build the 8,300-square-foot rehabilitation facility on state-owned land on Hogan Road, roughly across the road from Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, to house patients found not responsible for crimes they have committed or who are unfit to stand trial.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has questioned whether LePage has the legal authority to place the step down facility outside of Augusta.

State officials recently were notified that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is recalling $51 million in payments made to Maine since decertification.

The LePage administration has yet to provide details about the facility to the city. Among the questions that have gone unanswered are who will pay to build it and operate it, who will run it and what security measures will be put in place.

Rep. Aaron Frey, who represents part of Bangor and part of Orono in the Maine House of Representatives, said during the workshop that lawmakers have not authorized funding for either the facility’s construction or operation.

The City Council meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

 


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