The future of further improvements to the J. Henry Cameron Stadium athletics complex will soon be in the hands of Bangor voters.
The Bangor City Council voted 9-0 on Monday night to place a $2,730,000 municipal bond for upgrades to the facility on the November ballot.
The proposal put forth by Superintendent of Schools Betsy Webb and the Bangor School Committee calls for the installation of an artificial turf playing surface and an eight-lane, all-weather track at the complex. Cameron Stadium for more than 60 years has served as the home for the Bangor High School football and outdoor track and field teams, along with other youth sports programs.
The facility makeover also would open the door for use not only by Bangor High’s soccer, field hockey and lacrosse teams, but other school teams and community organizations.
Some councilors on Monday reportedly expressed concern about the timing of sending the project to voters during the COVID-19 pandemic, while others were in full support of the proposal, which ultimately received unanimous support.
If approved by voters, work on Cameron Stadium could begin as early as next spring. Proponents say having artificial turf would provide a cleaner and more consistent surface for practices and competitions, while a new track would replace the six-lane version that is in disrepair and can no longer be used for competition.
The availability of an artificial turf field and the eight-lane track also would make Bangor eligible to host Maine Principals’ Association regional and state championship events, along with other athletics functions that could bring people to the city.
Earlier this month, Webb and the Bangor School Committee forwarded the proposal to the City Council, which entertained the first reading at its Aug. 10 meeting.
An overhaul of Cameron Stadium was first proposed in 2010, when Bangor announced a $7 million capital campaign to make improvements to the football field, track and grandstand. The first phase, the $1.65 million grandstand renovation, was completed in 2013. It was financed by a $1.2 million bond and money from the Cameron Stadium contingency fund and The Friends of Cameron Stadium, a nonprofit group.
In 2016, the council approved $668,000 for the completion of the locker rooms under the grandstand at the facility. However, the efforts of the school committee and project supporters to raise the funds needed for the artificial turf and all-weather track were not successful.
Webb and the school committee last December first introduced an outline for the field and track renovations to the City Council. That plan emerged from recommendations made in 2018 by Oak Point Associates, a Biddeford-based architectural firm, that studied a potential infrastructure makeover of Bangor school facilities.
Among the suggested possibilities was building an athletics facility on city-owned land on Griffin Road. The Cameron Stadium project would instead fulfill the city’s needs for such a facility.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.