Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Does Bangor Need a New Stadium?
Kinda' like me.
But I'm about to violate my own rule again by discussing Bangor Area School Board. Spillman Farmer, a prominent architectural firm, was hired recently to lay out a number of options for the school's athletic fields. One of them is an $8.8 million stadium. As much as I love youth sports and enjoy sitting inside a local stadium, this is a bad idea for Bangor.
Bob Cartwright told me yesterday that the school district has many more pressing needs. These include a leaking roof at the middle school, which will cost $3.3 million to repair. Two teacher contracts need to be negotiated, and they have endured wage freezes long enough. The school district is running a $2 million or so deficit. The pension contribution is going up $1 million per year. And Bangor, like every school district in the state, is required to report that three times its $26 million payroll as a pension liability.
"We're the Titanic about to hit the iceberg, and they want to re-arrange the deck chairs and move the orchestra," he complained. "You can't spend money you don't have."
Cartwright raises another troubling point. "This is Bangor," he started. "We have some kids in this district whose only real meal is the free lunch they get at school." He added that over 400 families participate in the Portland's food bank. Portland's population is not much larger. "I'm a die-hard conservative," he added, "but at some point, you gotta' open your eyes."
Bangor always has very competitive sports programs, I reminded Cartwright. He agreed, but added, "Our priority is education."
That's too bad because Ron Angle, the Sultan of Slate Belt Sludge, spent the weekend designing the new stadium, which he has suggested be named after him. "If the weather gets bad, just close the lid," he explained "If the other team gets out of hand, just flush!".