PORTLAND, Maine — Anonymous fliers opposing the location of a long-anticipated Veterans Affairs medical facility were circulated around the city’s West End overnight. The outpatient clinic is expected to be built on an undeveloped parcel of land at 151 W. Commercial St., according to a VA spokesperson, who confirmed the site to the Bangor Daily News after being asked about the fliers.
The site on Commercial Street had yet to be announced publicly and the fliers accused the VA of acting in secrecy.
“A new large-scale VA facility is planned for our neighborhood?” the flier asks. “What’s with the rush and all the secrecy? Hold on. We’ve got questions.”
The fliers also list a website, westendwatch.org, which leads to an online petition that cites concerns about the project.
It’s unclear who is circulating the fliers and the petition. Portland City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, whose district includes the site, said a constituent alerted him to the posters via email.
“I have never heard of the group,” Thibodeau Said.
Jessica Grondin, a spokeswoman for the city, said the clinic will still need to go through the public planning process.
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Maine U.S. senators Angus King and Susan Collins announced the clinic in September but did not specify a location. The new facility will consolidate VA outpatient clinics in Portland and Saco. Portland’s current VA clinic is located at 144 Fore St., near the waterfront.
Questions about costs and construction timelines were not immediately answered by the Maine Office of Veterans Affairs. The VA made no official comment about the fliers.
Funding for the clinic was approved by Congress in 2017 but an initial budget technicality prevented the project from going forward. The Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta, where inpatient service is provided, is more than an hour drive from Portland and closer to 90 minutes from Saco.
According to the latest U.S. Census statistics, Portland is home to more than 3,000 veterans.