City Officials Initiate Education Program at Farmer’s Market Today

Contemporary Artist Abbeth Russell was Told She's in Compliance With the City's Code; Russell is Also a Member of the City's Task Force

City Official, Chuck Fagone, Tells One Street Artist She Isn't in Compliance With City Code

By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,152)

City officials converged on the Farmer’s Market at Monument Square this morning initiating an education and out reach program to artists who are not in compliance with the Farmer’s Market rules that gives farmers exclusive and adequate space to conduct their business without interference from artists who sometimes try to sell in the restricted area. Artists were handed a sheet of paper detailing the city’s ordinance surrounding restrictions around the Farmer’s Market in downtown Portland every Wednesday.

This program is the result of a policy set in place by a Street Vendor Task Force which has been meeting since earlier this year. The task force was established by a City Council Committee in early February; the Public Safety and Human & Health Services of the City Council of which Councilor Ed Suslovic is the chair. The Task Force was set-up because of the congestion that exists down at Buoy Park on the waterfront when cruise ships arrive. According to Larry Bruns, manager of the Farmer’s Market, for the past several years there have been tensions between farmers and artists who try to sell in the restricted area. Bruns ended up being the “enforcer” because he said the city wasn’t doing its job. It did today and he was pleased about that.

City code enforcement officer Chuck Fagone advised artists today whether or not they were in compliance with the rules promulgated by the city. That included their location and instructions regarding table size. He advised some who were not, that he would return next week to enforce the code, although he did not say what that involved. With Fagone were city attorney Ann Freeman, assistant city manager Anita LaChance and a police officer.

“The task force is not finished,” said Jennifer Hutchins, executive director of Creative Portland. “Maine College of Art and Creative Portland have been proactive by asking artists to mitigate congestion at the two identified spots – Buoy Park and the Farmer’s Market.” The task force was to report back its recommendations this month to the Suslovic Commitee, but it will not until its work is completed and evaluated. Yet to come are maps designed by Maine College of Art’s Jessica Tomlinson to indicate to artists where they can and can’t be during specific days and times.

For more background information, please see Post # 1,127, dated 4/25/12 as well as previous posts.