Carnaval ME Sparks Discord by Those Who Value Public Access for Public Parks and Those Who Don’t


A Tent at the Carnaval Me Where a Stage Allows Performers to Show of heir Talents to Anyone Willing to Pay the Admission Price, Whatever It May Be at the Entry Time. Earlier Today a Collapse of the Tent was Reported by Easern Prom Resident and Marine Writer Lincoln Paine.

Shane Richards, of Lake Region Design & Fabrication, Raymond, Beside his Aluminium Replica of a Snowflake  in the Cutter Street Parking Lot on Munjoy Hill. It Was an Ironic Symbol of the Lack of Snow Fall That Organizers Compensated for by Importing Snow from Elsewhere in Maine.

A City Employee Blocks the Entrance to Cutter Street, Turning Back Many Wanting to Get Down to the Beach Area.  Especially Bummed Were Those Wanting to Walk their Dogs on the Beach.  When Told the Above Employee he was Blocking the Public from Public Property, The Response Was:  “Oh?”

Baby it’s cold outside. But inside  legions of Portlanders are participating in a hot on-line debate between those who oppose the staging of the Second Carnaval ME on a public park on the Eastern Promenade and those who support it.

The ten day event, hosted by a private entity, Shamrock Sports & Entertainment, has raised questions as to whether the city of Portland should be permitting for profit private companies to dominate park lands as it denies access to the public – once again demonstrating how tone deaf city hall is about public lands and their use – yes,  even in the dead of winter.

Years ago, under Mayor Michael Brennan, city hall tried to sell Congress Square Park, a public park, for development.  Residents of the area got together and stopped that from happening.  They formed a coalition, Save the Park, to resist city hall’s effort to sell a downtown park.  Following several years of legal wrangling, the issue went to referendum.  Save the Park won. Today this public space is a much needed vibrant space in the middle of a densely populated arts district in downtown Portland – thanks to the tenacity of a group of dedicated activists.

The controversy over Carnaval ME picked-up  intensity following the on-line photo of the performance tent flat on the ground with the caption:  Tent at Carnaval ME Collapses, submitted by  Prom resident and marine author Lincoln Paine, this morning.

Simultaneously, a document of issues compiled by Zack Rouda, an East End resident, has kept this debate alive if not ugly sometimes. At times the civil and logical document presented by Rouda  has been downgraded to gutter ball name calling by some in support of the city’s policy of renting out public space for private profit   The gutter ball name calling is too offensive to be repeated in this blog to the disappoinment of the gutter ball himself apparentlly by his communications with Rich!

The Rouda document ended with a comparison to the event started in Quebec City.  Quebec City has a population of 540,000 and Portland has a popultion of about 64,000.   He called for a weekend event rather than a ten day event that has disrupted other activities that normally take place in public parks – even in the winter.

Hill resident Karen Snyder pointed out that blocking Cutter Street, a public street down to the beach for over a week, contrasts sharply with the public streets that were closed for one day, maybe two days when the Old Port Fest was active. Snyder added:  “Allowing a private event to be held on public park land funded by taxpayers goes against what a public park is about.” speculates that  probably Frederick Law Olmsted, founder of Central Park and whose firm designed Fort Allen Park, would agree.

Jenny K wrote:  “I agree that leaders seem to want to make our fair city into something it is not and does not have the infrastructure for.  And I agree that, as in the past, everything we do needs to be done with an awareness of environmental impact….”

Mark Manduca wrote:  “……I do not agree with renting public space to companies to make a profit……Portland has been WAY over promoted to the detriment of its residents who cannot enjoy the city they pay for.”

Mihku Anderson wrote:  “…I urge each of you to contact your district rep on the Council.  The city is continuing a pattern of unresponsive behavior to residents.  Portland is a community, not a business..”

Residents were angry because their access down Cutter Street was blocked.  That did  not permit access to the East End Beach where dog walkers walk their pets, kids sledding was curtailed and other activities such as bird watching.  No access for the public; only for Carnaval ticket holders.

The Rouda document said:  “Please stop trying to ruin our small, friendly, lovely city.  Stop trying to make it be like Boston or Quebec City or New York.  I do not believe that these people ………value Winter.  I think they care about money.”

Don’t you think that Thompson’s Point would be a better site for future Winter Carnaval’s than the public park on the Eastern Promenade? James wrote on-line:  “..And what about Thompson’s Point as a venue?  There’s an ice rink, space for concerts and parking!!! Imagine that.”

The Carnaval ME was approved unanimously by the city council last October; the devil is in the details!  Brian Corcoran, Founder of Carnaval Maine, is married to Melissa Smith, Chief Executive Officer of WEX.  Small world, isn’t it?!

The “Collins Press Herald” has been a strong supporter and provided free advertising through its advance articles about Shamrock’s “occupation” of the Eastern Promenade.

Please visit post herein dated February 17, 2022, for more background information on the Winter Carnaval on Munjoy Hill:  “Springish Weather Plays Havoc With Carnaval Me.”