Credit: Courtesy of City of Bangor

If all goes as planned, a new piece of public art will be installed on the Bangor waterfront by the end of the year, to hide a huge concrete, iron and steel exhaust pipe that’s part of the city’s new sewage and stormwater tank project.

As the nearly 30-month project to install the 3.8-million gallon tank on the Bangor waterfront draws to a close, construction crews have been working on the finishing touches — including a standalone, above-ground, 24-foot-tall stack and exhaust pipe, to allow for the release of any gasses that might accumulate in the tank below.

That stack and pipe was supposed to be attached to a nearby maintenance building, until contractor S.E. MacMillian realized that would not be possible given site constraints — a change that went against the contract the firm had with the city and resulted in a fairly unattractive piece of industrial infrastructure looming over the waterfront.

As a compromise, company president Stan MacMillan offered to donate $10,000 to the city to transform the stack and pipe into an original piece of sculptural public art. The city agreed, and it is now accepting proposals from artists to create the artwork.

“We can transform this thing into something that’s really cool looking, so when you’re walking down the waterfront trails you’ll see something that’s really unique and not just a big piece of concrete and iron,” said Bangor city engineer John Theriault.

The request for proposals that’s currently on the city website says that any approved art must be themed to the Penobscot River, taking into account the river’s diverse ecosystems and sacred status with the Penobscot Nation, and its long history as the economic and recreational engine for the Bangor region. It also has to be able to withstand the weather and require minimal maintenance for the duration of the stack and pipe’s lifetime.

The artwork will be approved by Bangor’s commission on cultural development, and the city is accepting proposals through July 27.

The waterfront already looks dramatically different from how it has looked for the past two years, as contractors filled in the gaping holes on the waterfront in early May and have already completed sodding and paving.

They are now completing a handful of mechanical and electrical tweaks and tests. The work on the tank will not be fully complete until Bangor receives two rainstorms with sufficient rain that it can see how well the tank works for its stated purpose — capturing stormwater and sewage overflow and keeping it from flowing into the river.

But from a visual perspective, the work appears to be mostly done — just in time for the first ships from American Cruise Lines that have begun visiting the waterfront, and for the concert season at the Maine Savings Amphitheater to begin on June 23.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.