Old Port


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May 25, 2006
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What a classy touching way to start this thread

Old Port pissing match
Bar owners to sue city; officials consider crackdown

By Chris Busby

Some Old Port bar owners and city officials think they have an obvious solution to the late-night crime problem in the district: make the offenders pay.

"Start fining and arresting the few number of people who are actually causing problems," wrote Oasis owner Michael Harris in an April 12 letter to The Bollard. "We want people to start hearing that if you start trouble in the street, you're going to get fined!"

Harris and other bar owners say police are allowing people to fight and urinate on the streets of the Old Port practically at will. Bar owners, police and city officials discussed this at a May 16 meeting of the new Old Port Night Life Task Force.

Mayor Jim Cohen appointed the task force to find solutions to problems associated with large groups gathering in the popular tourist district on late weekend nights.

In an attempt to help cover the cost of heavy police coverage, city councilors more than tripled a bar fee assessed on certain types of bars in the area as part of the city budget passed last week. [Read that story here].

Also last week, over a dozen bar owners gathered for beers to discuss challenging that fee hike in court.

Portland attorney Joseph Goodman has been working with the group, but did not return a call seeking comment. A bar owner who attended and helped organize last week's meeting ? speaking on condition of anonymity, given the sensitivity of the matter ? confirmed that the bar owners decided to sue, as they had publicly threatened to do during a council meeting earlier this spring.

The bar group's spokesperson, Gritty McDuff's owner Richard Pfeffer, could not be reached for comment. City attorney Gary Wood affirmed his opinion that the fee was legal, and had no further comment.

The bar owners say the fee, commonly called the "seat tax," is actually a tax, and as such in unlawful. It applies only to bars that make over half their revenue from alcohol sales and which are located within an oddly shaped Old Port Overlay Zone.

At present, there are 22 bars with Overlay Licenses (a maximum of 24 are available), and the fee hike would make them responsible for a total of $60,000. Bar owners like Harris think the city can improve the crowd situation and cover the cost of doing so by holding offenders legally, and financially, accountable.

City Councilor Will Gorham acknowledged that many perpetrators of assault get off scot-free. But he pointed out that for police and prosecutors to prove a crime, they need both the victim and the defendant. "If the victim takes off, there's not much you can do," said Gorham, whose council district includes the Old Port.

Gorham also acknowledged that bar patrons are generally allowed to pee freely, but he attributed that to a lack of prosecutorial will.

"The D.A.'s Office said, ?If you don't see genitalia, we're not going to prosecute,'" said Gorham, who added that Police Chief Tim Burton is being asked to "have a conversation" with District Attorney Stephanie Anderson about the matter.

"If you see someone standing against a dumpster and you know he's taking a wizz, they should be arrested," said Gorham.

Burton did not return calls seeking comment. Anderson was unavailable for comment.

"I don't even know if public urination is a crime," said City Councilor Jim Cloutier. "Public exposure is a crime."

Jan Beitzer, Executive Director of Portland's Downtown District, said there is a city ordinance against public urination. And unlike fines for violations of Maine law, which are sent to the state government, the city collects revenue from local ordinance violations.

The local law against pissing (or shitting) on a public street is classified as a crime of "indecent conduct." The majority of these citations involve public urination, said city spokesperson Peter DeWitt.

Police made 37 arrests for indecent conduct in 2005, and issued 4 citations, according to police records. So far this year, there have been 10 arrests and three citations. First-time violators face a fine of at least $100; second offenders, $300; and third-timers, $500 ? plus the cost of the city's attorney fees and "all costs of prosecution," according to the ordinance.

But even if the city could crack down on public pissers, Cloutier said he isn't sure that would help keep the peace.

"There are a lot of amateur crowd control specialists out there," Cloutier said, adding that he'd like to hear the advice of someone with "expertise in how this actually works and what your practical opportunities are." He noted that the process of arresting and prosecuting offenders is time consuming and complicated.

"If you have three or four thousand people down there, and it takes easily a half an hour of instant paperwork to put one of these together, and you've only got 10 or 12 officers" in the area, "there are probably those who'd make the judgment that the math doesn't work out."
c'mon, if i were arrested for public urination (at night) and in private, which i routinely do, i would sue the city. that is bull shit, and everyone knows that if u have to go, u have to go, and if u go out of your way not to pee in front of anyone, especially in an ally or dark corner, u should be left the hell alone. imagine that on your permanent record: arrested for peing in public. to whomever reads it in the future, they might as well assume you pissed on the floor in line at city hall. c'mon..
Old Port task force targets troublemakers, bar owners? role

PORTLAND ? The group charged with coming up with ways to get a handle on bad behavior in the Old Port at night has come up with a work plan aimed at bar owner responsibility and increasing police summonses for violation like public urination.

The Old Port Nightlife Task Force also plans on inviting state Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara and Portland District Attorney Stephanie Anderson to discuss ways of shortening the time it takes the state to fine violators and more aggressive prosecution of people caught fighting.

The state still has control of enforcement of summonses for certain liquor-related offenses. Currently, if a police officer issues a summons it gets sent to the state, which takes four to five weeks to actually send an official summons to the offender, according to Lt. Janine Roberts.

?They?ve got nobody doing it up there,? city attorney Gary Wood said at a task force meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The task force also wants to meet with Anderson to ask her office for a more aggressive policy for assault cases. The policy the D.A. currently operates under is to not prosecute someone arrested on an assault charge for fighting in the Old Port unless all the parties involved are caught.

Inviting owners of Old Port bars to sign on to a voluntary code of responsibility is also a step the task force felt could better manage the crowds at night. Doug Fuss, owner of Bull Feeney?s, said the Nightlife Oversight Committee would submit language for such a code next month.

?Get the bar owner to sign up for it,? suggested Steve Baumann, an Old Port property owner. ?Give them a sticker for their door for cooperating.?

Banning individuals from Old Port bars was also seen as a way to curb bad behavior. While some bars have ban lists, those lists are not necessarily circulated to neighboring bars.

?Ban people for a year from the bars if they are convicted,? suggested Councilor Jim Cloutier. In terms of generating a list, Roberts said that in the past the police department has kept a book of all people arrested in the Old Port.

Mike Harris, an owner of the Oasis on Wharf Street, told the task force should invite bar owners in to discuss operations in the Old Port at night and what could be done to make the area safer. He listed some simple ways to address dispersement of the horde of revelers that pile in to Wharf Street at 1 a.m. on weekends, including having deejays announce just prior to closing that bad behavior will get them arrested and banned from Old Port bars.

The Mayor?s Old Port Nightlife Task Force members include Baumann, Fuss, Cloutier, Councilor Will Gorham, Erica Schmitz, Justin Alfond and Portland Downtown District Director Janis Beitzer. The group is supposed to report back to the City Council with its findings in September.

The task force next meets June 6 to continue discussions on how to improve behavior in the Old Port and also to talk about changes to the Old Port Overlay Ordinance. The ordinance currently includes 24 bars and recently came under scrutiny when the city decided to increase the amount those bars have to pay in ?seat taxes,? or the fee per seat.

The June 6 meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. in room 209 of City Hall.
Old Port is a festival of street feats

Some of the most interesting parts of the Old Port Festival couldn't be found on the schedule of events.

On a drizzly Sunday afternoon, one of those spontaneous pleasures came from a juggling, rope-walking street performer named George Weatherbee.

Families who came for the music and the food got sidetracked in Tommy's Park, where Weatherbee tied a rope between two trees, put down a hat and showed off skills he's been honing since boyhood.

At one point he was juggling three balls while perched several feet off the ground, balanced precariously on one foot. The feat drew applause from a gathering crowd.

"I like the unexpected quality of street performing," the 48-year-old performer said during a break.

Weatherbee, who lives in Portland, makes his living as a house painter. But on Friday evenings during the summer, he and other street performers can be found juggling fire in this same downtown park. He also practices twice a week, saying he enjoys the intense concentration that his act requires.

"It has a meditative aspect," he said, "and it's something people like to see."

Weatherbee traces his interest in rope walking to the summer of 1974, when a young Frenchman named Phillippe Petit walked between the unfinished towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

"I just thought it was an amazing thing," said Weatherbee, who grew up in Hampden. "I built a little rigging in my backyard."

As a juggler, he described himself as a follower of the European school, which emphasizes three-ball artistry over mastery of more difficult skills. But he also remembers to entertain the audience.

"Lighting things on fire is really impressive to people," he said.

Weatherbee has been performing at the Old Port Festival off and on for about 20 years. The one-day festival's organizer, Portland's Downtown District, allows street performers as long they stay in parks.

When Weatherbee began his act Sunday, distracted teens made way for rapt children and their parents. Suspended in the air, Weatherbee maneuvered a circular loop over his head, around his arms, down his torso and under his feet. Later, he managed to balance his entire body on the sagging rope.

Weatherbee hopes that his shows will be memorable to children, much the same way the tightrope walk between the twin towers made an impression on him.

The only pratfall of the 10-minute performancet lighted up the face of 4-year-old Haley Moyer.

The red-haired girl retrieved a fallen juggling pin, but as soon as she returned it to Weatherbee, another fell to the ground. She picked up that one, too, but a third pin fell. And so on. The young girl, who was visiting from Texas, covered her face in a moment of amused exasperation.

Organizers of the 33rd annual Old Port Festival estimated that spotty weather cut attendance in half, and that roughly 20,000 people attended the free event between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday.
I still dont understand how we have so many problems in the old port when that short weapon-of-a-human-being on the far left works at practically every club in portland. what a mean lookin SOB. I swear sometimes he is in like 8 places at once. he comes up to my knee caps but he looks like he would eat me for breakfast all the same. gritty's are you in this pic

I wouldnt wanna cross her path, either:



more pictures
HAHA, no, I'm not in that pic. I stopped going a few months ago due to my crappy back and my constant fatigue. He is the nicest guy. He doesn't do drugs or drink and he is very liberal. He could also elbow your face off of your skull if needed. Mostly he just chokes people out and drags them to the street.
This dude on webshot must have an apartment two floors below me.


Check out both pages since I doubt I'll ever be energetic enough to take and most my own pics of my new digs. Those pics look really depressing during that time of winter. Also, not to invade on these people's pics(they are public anyway), click on their pic set of "Hawaii 2004". Look at the pic on the right on the first page. Holy ish I didn't know they had that big of a skyline.

Patrick, you living on A, B, C, or D street down off of St. John street?

I dont think this shot is from baxter place, because it is taken from a building in which my father used to work as a paint salesman. unless they converted it, or is there living above?

Hawaii has some major skylines gritty's. where have you been living your whole life, under a rock, or in maine, or is that the same thing?

And I am living ON St. John's street, well actually the sidewalk, but same diff.
Cost has doubled, but art waves are coming


An artist's rendering depicts "Tracing the Fore," a sculpture featuring wave-shaped stainless steel to be installed in the grassy square that divides Fore Street near the old Custom House.

The transformation of Portland's Boothby Square, in the works for eight years, is scheduled to be completed in September with the installation of a grass-and-steel sculpture that will mimic the rolling waves of the Fore River.

The Public Art Committee recently accepted the final plan for "Tracing the Fore," designed by Massachusetts artist Shauna Gillies-Smith. It will feature sheets of wave-shaped stainless steel jutting out of the grassy square that divides Fore Street near the old Custom House.

The initial proposal for the Old Port project was selected more than two years ago in a design competition that drew a few dozen applicants. At the time, the project was the city's first art commission since Portland started funding public art through its capital improvement budget in 2001.

The project's cost has increased since early 2004, from $65,000 to $135,000, because it had to be redesigned to allow for underground utilities that were discovered when the artist first tried to install the sculpture, city officials said.

In that time, construction and steel costs have skyrocketed. Increased funding for the project was approved as part of this year's public art budget, said City Councilor Karen Geraghty, who sits on the Public Art Committee.

Despite the higher cost, committee members are pleased that the project finally will be completed, said chairwoman Alice Spencer.

Spencer praised the sculpture's combination of social and historical influences, noting that Portland's waterfront once started at Fore Street, before the area stretching to Commercial Street was filled.

"The water used to lap right up along there," Spencer said. "In a way, the sculpture is a map of what used to be there."

The committee's acceptance of the new proposal included a condition that any cost savings realized during the installation would be returned to the city, said Alexander Jaegerman, Portland's planning director.

The sculpture's installation will follow the 2000-2001 reconstruction of the cobblestone- and granite-lined center strip of Fore Street, which cost $600,000.

More recently, the Libra Foundation gave the city $50,000 in 2004 to buy back and reinstall the original granite horse-watering trough that once stood in the square.

Col. Frederick Boothby, a former Portland mayor, gave the trough and the land for the square to the city in 1902 as a public memorial to his late wife. The trough was removed in 1946 after it was nearly demolished in a car accident and had been owned by a Wells antiques dealer for about 20 years.

The sculpture will consist of five stainless-steel plates spaced 5 to 6 feet apart. Between the steel "waves," the rolling terrain will be planted with a special species of grass that will grow about 6 inches tall, said Carrie Marsh, Portland's urban designer.

The artist, Gillies-Smith, is director of the Cambridge, Mass., office of Martha Schwartz Partners, an international landscape design firm. She has a bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of British Columbia and a master's degree in urban design from Harvard University.

Her resume shows she has worked on projects across the United States and Canada, as well as in Ireland, England and Germany. Gillies-Smith said she's eager to get started on the Portland project, and noted that the cost of materials has affected public art projects everywhere.

"I was stunned by the jump in construction and steel costs," she said.
WTF is this?

Portland: Explosion destroys Federal mailbox, shuts down Old Port street

PORTLAND ? An explosion destroyed a mailbox in the Old Port early Sunday, forcing police to shut down a section of West Commercial Street for six hours.

Lt. Bob Ridge said a caller reported hearing a loud noise in the area of 75 West Commercial St. around 2 a.m.

When police arrived, they saw debris from a ruined U.S. Postal Service box for outgoing mail spread around the sidewalk and in the street, Ridge said. He said he could not identify the type of explosives used to destroy the mailbox.

Police called in a bomb squad to make sure there were no explosives stashed in the two other outgoing mailboxes nearby - one UPS, the other FedEx, Ridge said.

Ridge said the bomb squad gathered evidence, found no other explosives and reopened the closed stretch around 8 a.m.
Patrick said:
WTF is this?

Portland: Explosion destroys Federal mailbox, shuts down Old Port street

Related to this prehaps?

Police in Vt., N.H. investigating up to 12 bombings in 2 states

By Wilson Ring, Associated Press Writer | August 21, 2006

MONTPELIER, Vt. --Police in Vermont and New Hampshire expect to charge four people later this week for their roles in a series of up to a dozen pipe bombings in the two states, police said.

Three homes in the New Hampshire towns of Enfield and Orange were searched late Sunday and early Monday where police seized evidence related to the cases, police said.

Three juveniles and one adult, who have not been publicly identified, will be charged later this week in both states, police said.

"During the course of this investigation suspects in the Upper Valley pipe bombings have been identified," said Enfield Police Chief Richard Crate. "The investigators are confident they have brought to a conclusion at least eight incidents between the state of New Hampshire and Vermont."

Crate said the break in the case came Saturday night when police stopped a car for a minor traffic violation and spotted a canister of gunpowder in the back. He did not identify the two youths -- ages 17 and 18 -- involved because they have not been charged, but said computer searches using their names turned up online discussions of their alleged activities.

He said that led to three searches, two in Enfield and one in Orange. The searches turned up steel pipes, screw-on caps to seal them, gunpowder and fuses.

Crate said the police departments involved -- including state police in both states -- now estimate there have been 10 to 12 explosions in the past week against targets including mailboxes and portable toilets.

No injuries have been reported. Police have not offered an estimate of the damage from the bombings.

Investigators are continuing to collect information about the case. Even though the suspects are not in custody, Vermont State Police Sgt. John Flannigan said police did not believe there was an ongoing threat to the public.

On Friday, Vermont State Police discovered that a bomb had damaged a pay phone near the Vermont Law School in South Royalton. That bombing was followed by arson fires on Vermont Route 14 in Sharon, on town roads in Royalton and Barnard, police said.

On Saturday night, Vermont State Police received a report of an explosion and found a portable toilet behind the Royalton school, which was destroyed in that blast.

Flannigan said police don't know if the bombings and the arson fires were related.
Looked inside the Industry, which is become a new bar called Right Proper Charlies. Was actually suprised at how nice it looks in their. Kinda like a Bull Feeneys or Rira.
Patrick said:
could be related, but kinda far away.
Eh, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire...they all kinda blur together for us Massholes. :D
I cant imagine why! :shock:

its not like there are no real cities up here or anything :lol:

but seriously, vermont has nothing to do with southern maine...i feel like northeast mass is so much closer and more tied in with the region than any part of vermont. a lot of the guys at the construction site i used to work at down in kennebunkport drove up daily from NH and mass, but none from VT.