More transparency on ICE facility warranted

To the editor,

On Feb. 14, 2020, Bangor Daily News (BDN) ran an article about a federal contract awarded to a local real estate developer for a US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) processing center to be located at 40 Manson Libby Road in Scarborough. Unfortunately, Scarborough’s current ordinances allow “any federal use” in the zone where the building is located, so exactly 7 months later Scarborough’s planning board voted unanimously to allow necessary modifications to the building and lot to proceed. Scarborough’s town council discussed the facility at their meeting on February 19th of last year, but determined that they didn’t really have a role to play since the contract was between the developer and the federal government, and the ICE facility wouldn’t violate any ordinances.

After an update from BDN on 12/15/20, I’ve spent many hours reading everything I can get my hands on (from press coverage to planning board minutes), emailing elected officials and municipal employees, and connecting with members of the community to raise awareness — for many it was the first they’d heard of it.

In spite of my efforts, I still have more questions than answers. In my latest email to the town council, I proposed the need for a community forum. Only one councilor responded indicating a willingness to connect with community members on the issue to learn and “… share the plans, the purposes of the project, and what to expect …” I got the impression that the council is not hearing a lot of community concern, and that they’d rather avoid such a controversial issue if they can.

I’m certain that I’m not the only person in Scarborough who would prefer a transparent, proactive conversation about this as soon as possible. If you share my curiosity and concerns, please reach out to local officials to let them know. Otherwise, I fear they will continue to ignore my emails and hope this issue continues to fly under most people’s radars.

ICE is coming this spring, and the community isn’t even close to being prepared for its consequences.

Erin Rowan

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