Walgreens on Union Street In Bangor Is Now Wall-less
For the past few years, we've been reporting on the fact that much like the yellow pole at the Aburn Walmart, folks here in Bangor can't seem to avoid hitting the retaining wall at the Union Street Walgreens.
According to the City of Bangor's Director of Code Enforcement, Jeff Wallace, it's a problem that's apparently spanned back over two decades at this point.
"I guess it has been an issue since it went in (1998). Cars would knock it with their bumpers and Walgreens would stack it back up."
The problem was that just as fast as someone would fix the wall after it had been hit, that's how quickly someone else would come along and wreck it again. Wallace said the most recent knock to the wall had strewn bricks almost into the path of the nearby sidewalk.
"This last time was so bad there really wasn’t any hope left for the retaining wall."
He said that someone from Walgreens had reached out at one point, and inquired about replacing the bricks with a wooden structure, similar to this one.
"Before the recent complaints about the condition of the wall started coming in earlier this spring, and man did they come in, someone from Walgreens reached out to us to ask what the process would be to replace the retaining wall with a wood structure similar to the picture I have attached. We thanked them as this would be a great improvement, and told them about the simple process for a minor site plan revision. This is where they would provide a plan showing what they were removing, what they were installing, and where they were installing it."
Wallace said having advised the company on what to do, and how simple of a process it was, they were hoping the turnaround would be relatively short. Unfortunately, it has taken longer than they hoped it would.
"Once the application was received, it would be reviewed by the City Engineer, the City Planner, and myself. We have all seen this and are all for it. So once it is received, it will be turned around quickly. We just haven’t received it yet and are being told it is 'being worked on.'"
In the meantime, the bricks were still there, strewn about the place and in the way.
"Then the complaints started coming in. We issued the standard Notice of Violation but more importantly, I started stopping by the store for chats with the manager. After the second one, when I expressed the observation that nothing was being done, the local manager said he had no power to do anything about it. So I asked who would and was told it was his boss, a regional manager."
Wallace said he asked for the manager's number and was told that not even the employees were allowed to call that person, so they could not give out his number.
"I had literally never heard anything like that before. I was pretty sure the guy I wanted the number for had called our office earlier in the day so I was confident I already had the number, so I didn’t push the manager hard for a number. I just stated that was a weird set-up (beyond them, who isn’t allowed to call their boss???) and left."
Wallace did end up having the regional manager's number, and after a number of phone calls and conversations, and then more delays, Wallace tried another tactic and made the offer to handle things himself.
"I let him know he just needed to give me the go-ahead and I would take care of it that evening. (I am so glad he didn’t call my bluff as my plan was to pick each block up by hand; after seeing the amount of work it took with a couple of machines, I now realize that would have been a bad plan. 😊) At that point, he promised me he would have a crew here this week."
Wallace said by Wednesday of last week, a crew was in place, and work to clean up the mess had gotten underway.
"I stopped and thanked them for getting it done. They were friendly guys. Came all the way up from NH as Clifford was not successful in lining up a local crew."
While Wallace says he's still not sure what Walgreens has planned to fix the situation, aside from removing the problematic bricks, but he hopes the issue will be taken care of sooner rather than later.
"We still haven’t seen the application for a minor site plan revision, but like all things, we remain hopeful we will soon...this is a nice example of the patience this gig requires, the outside-the-box techniques I sometimes use, and a story that ended well ."
As someone who lives in this neighborhood, I am glad to have the bricks gone, and appreciate the work it took, on all fronts, to get them removed.