Casco Bay island residents are outraged at their abrupt eviction from monthly leased parking spots in the multi-level garage closest to Portland’s ferry terminal.

Unified Parking Partners, the firm that manages the garage, told at least 20 monthly permit holders Thursday afternoon that they were losing their spots and had to be out by midnight Sunday.

“Unfortunately, this decision is due to prior lease agreements and delays in the City permitting process, which are out of our control,” the company said in a termination notice obtained by the Portland Press Herald.

Tenants were offered spaces in the Chestnut Street or Monument Square garages, Unified Parking Partners said. The company says it did not target island residents for eviction, but the news rekindled fear that the needs of Portland’s island residents are being sidelined by commercial and tourist development.

People who live year-round on the islands and depend on the ferry to get to work, home and school, have decried the lack of convenient parking and ferries packed with visitors.

Craig, the garage manager, who would not provide his last name, said this was the latest wave of evictions from the garage. Other people lost parking spots last month, he said.

Craig would not disclose what company or entity Unified has prior lease agreements with that required the evictions. The company is not “cherry-picking” island residents to leave, he said.

The parking controversy quickly spilled out of private Facebook and nextdoor.com groups and into City Hall. In a Tweet Friday afternoon, City Manager Jon Jennings denied the city had anything to do with the issue.

“UPP is blaming the city for this decision, but we have no role in this and to blame us is cowardly,” Jennings said.

Lauren Webster, a full-time Peaks Island resident, said her partner was one of the people who lost his parking space in the garage and had to take a spot about a mile away. It’s going to make their commutes in for work and shopping more difficult, but there’s no other choice, Webster said.

“We need to have a place to park a vehicle on the mainland,” she said. “You have to take what you are offered, you can’t not have a parking spot.”

What amounts to an inconvenience for Webster and her partner is more serious for people with children, the elderly or people with mobility issues, she said.

“We plan our lives around boat schedules,” Webster said. “It really affects islander day-to-day living.”

Others were incensed that Unified gave almost no advance warning.

Unified Parking Partners says it did not target island residents, but the news of their eviction from the Ocean Gateway Garage rekindled fear that their needs are taking a back seat to development. Press Herald photo by Ben McCanna

“We were furious,” said Ed Rea, a Portland resident who used a monthly parking space to get out to his seasonal home on Long Island.

He took a spot in the Monument Square parking garage on Cumberland Street, about a mile walk from the ferry terminal. The inconvenience is frustrating, but so is the abrupt way Unified Parking Partners handled the eviction, Rea said.

“The thing apart from the problem with moving and the extra distance is that they would spring this after hours on Thursday with a termination on Sunday,” he said.

Asher Chappell, a partner and manager of Unified Parking, declined to comment to a reporter as he was waiting outside of the city manager’s office on Friday afternoon.

When Jennings emerged, Chappell did not try to speak to him.

Jennings said a city attorney is looking into whether the garage owner, 167 Fore Street LLC, which is controlled by developer Jonathan Cohen, is still subject to a prior agreement that required a certain number of spaces in the garage to be made available to islanders at certain rates.

Staff Writer Randy Billings contributed to this story. 

 

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.