The facility would be a "step-down" center for Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, housing persons convicted of serious crimes, but who were deemed not mentally fit to serve in prison. The biggest issue facing Bangor Tuesday? Elected officials have been left just as much in the dark as residents.
"The administration and the governor chose a path that did not involve the legislature, that did not require the legislature to provide its oversight," state representative Aaron Frey said. "And the way it did that was by taking state land that it had here in Bangor. It said, 'if a private company would by that land and build a building on it, we will lease it from you and we will do it our own way.'"
LePage would have needed legislative approval to build a facility, but decided instead to make a deal with Cianbro to independently construct on government land on Hogan Road, then lease that facility; a controversial, but legal move.
In May, the city emailed Governor LePage, requesting a meeting with officials to discuss the facility's impact and operation. The governor's office responded in July and, in that email, provided web links as "significant information" that he encouraged Bangor to review.
The first link leads to the database where the original proposal can be found, the one that the city had already read. The other link leads to a page on the state of Maine website that does not exist.
Residents living next to the proposed site came out in full force.
"We have on the street seven families, and three of the houses are occupied by people over 85 years old," Joe Harkins said.
"I would not feel safe living in my own house," Josh Dyer added. "I think that is a problem, I've lived in Bangor for over 20 years."
"I don't want [inmates] living next to me," Daniel Fowler said. "I don't care, you could put up a concrete wall a hundred feet tall. It's not the place for it. My property value is up here," he pointed. "And it's going to be down here."
The next move for the city is to vote on imposing a six-month moratorium, which would prevent any permitting or building of a facility during that time, and give the council time to weigh its legal options. That vote will take place at the council's next meeting on Monday, September 25 at 7:30PM.