A Skowhegan businessman wants to open a car wash in Bangor at the site of a closed redemption center on Broadway, but some nearby residents in the Little City neighborhood aren’t too happy about the idea, and plan to make their feelings known at a public hearing on Tuesday.
Ed Goff wants to open a Bangor location for Fast Eddie’s, his chain of automatic car washes with locations in Augusta and Brunswick. Goff also offers a self-serve dog wash at his Augusta location, and an express detailing service at the Brunswick location.
The Bangor location, 490 Broadway, is the site of the former Bangor Redemption and Beverage Center, and is located at the corner of Broadway and Earle Avenue, next to Tri-City Pizza and across the street from an Irving gas station and Circle K. It’s diagonally across from an on- and off-ramp to Interstate 95.
Goff said he chose the 490 Broadway location precisely because it’s a high-traffic area in a shopping district, but still has neighborhoods close by.
“We have had Bangor on our radar for a while now and right now feels like the right time for us,” Goff said. “We looked throughout Bangor and feel this is the best site available.”
While most of the 0.6-acre site is zoned as an Urban Service District, 0.2 acres of the site are zoned as Urban Residence District One. Goff is requesting that the 0.2 acres be rezoned as Urban Service District, so he can use the entire lot for his business. A public hearing on the zone change is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bangor City Hall before the city’s Planning Board. Public comment will be heard over Zoom.
Some residents on Earle Avenue and nearby Warwick Street, Fowler Avenue and Pleasant View Avenue aren’t happy with the potential change, however, and are concerned with how an increase in traffic from a new business would affect an already congested area.
The former redemption center site falls within a fifth-of-a-mile corridor that saw more than 80 crashes between 2015 and 2017, according to a Maine Department of Transportation analysis.
A proposal in 2019 to overhaul that stretch of Broadway included plans to only allow right turns from Earle Avenue onto Broadway, and to eventually move the on-ramp to Interstate 95 southbound so that it is more aligned with the exit ramp from I-95 southbound on the other side of Broadway. None of those plans have yet been implemented, though Broadway was repaved in 2017, and traffic lights were re-timed to better regulate the flow of traffic.
Earle Avenue resident Julie Ann said that she’d seen the number of crashes drop dramatically since the Bangor Redemption Center closed in December 2018, and didn’t want to see that level of crashes return if a new business were to open.
“With the redemption center closed, accidents at the Earle and Broadway intersection seem to have plummeted,” Ann said. “Putting something like a car wash there will increase traffic and cause more accidents. This is part of the reason they are doing the restructure of that intersection and making Earle a right turn only onto Broadway.”
Ann also said she was concerned that with the proposed right turn only restriction from Earle onto Broadway, more drivers will go down Earle Avenue and through narrow, quiet residential streets including Warwick Street, Fowler Avenue, Pleasant View Avenue and Poplar Street, before being able to get back to a main road such as Center Street or Kenduskeag Avenue.
“As anyone in the neighborhood can tell you, navigating the turns at the base of the hill can get a little hairy,” Ann said. “Those that live in our section of Little City are aware of this and most of us take it very slow around those corners.”