As the Bangor City Council prepares to vote in just a few days on whether to keep the region’s public bus hub in Pickering Square, the proposal appears to have enough votes for passage by the nine-member panel: four councilors have said they will definitely vote for it, and a fifth has said that she probably will.
But when another councilor made an 11th-hour proposal earlier this week to move the hub to a new location on Exchange Street, it provoked a fresh round of debate about a nearly decade-old question that some residents are eager to settle.
On Tuesday, Councilor Ben Sprague said in a memo to city staff and fellow councilors that the location — along a section of Exchange Street just across from the Penobscot County Judicial Center and next to TD Bank — would allow the city to keep the bus hub downtown while also freeing up Pickering Square to serve as more of a public gathering space.
On Thursday morning, Sprague backed off the proposal somewhat. He did so after city staff found that it would be hard to accommodate the buses on Exchange Street itself and that moving the hub into the nearby parking lot opposite the courthouse would probably force the city to close that parking lot. The lot has about 100 paid parking spots that generate $73,000 in annual revenue, according to Community and Economic Development Officer Tyler Collins.
“I’m not married to this idea at this point, but I wanted to at least have some discussion about it,” Sprague said Thursday. “I still like the idea. I think the disadvantages are not insurmountable, but I don’t have a solution about what to do on parking. That’s a question that would take some serious consideration.”