WATERVILLE — One video shows a woman pulling her pants down in an alleyway, squatting and urinating while holding a cigarette in one hand, and propping herself against the outside wall of an insurance office with the other hand.

A second video shows a woman pulling her top down to bare her breasts to people on the building’s roof.

In a third video, a man walks down the alley to urinate, followed by another man who does the same.

A fourth shows a man appear to choke and throw another man down; a fifth appears to reveal a drug sale. In another video, a man drops his pants, wipes himself with his underwear and leaves the underwear in the alley.

These are just a few of the dozens of surveillance video scenes that play out late at night on Silver Street downtown outside the insurance company building John Fortier has owned for 40 years and which has been in the family about 50 years.

“They’re using my alleyway as their urinal and other things — cocaine, needles,” Fortier said Wednesday. “This alleyway is an attractive nuisance in insurance terms. It’s an inherent vice.”

Fortier shared the videos Wednesday with the Morning Sentinel after addressing the City Council on Tuesday night to urge councilors to do something about the problems. He said he has complained to the city and police, but it is ongoing.

“I’m not trying to be the trouble maker — I just want this crap to stop,” Fortier said Wednesday.

He said he learned only 24 hours before the council meeting that the council was going to vote on a request to close part of Silver Street and Merchant’s Way downtown to thru-traffic from April 1 to Nov. 1 next year. He asked that the council wait until next year to make a decision, as the COVID-19 situation could change. His elderly customers with mobility problems have trouble getting to his building with part of Silver Street already closed for outdoor dining, he said.


The council voted 5-1 to approve closing part of those streets next year, with Councilor Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, the lone dissenter. He had asked the decision be postponed. Other councilors said Fortier’s problems and the street closure issue were two separate things.

Fortier said Wednesday that he wishes the council had added conditions to their vote and that businesses near his be required to police themselves.

Meanwhile, he plans to move his business next year to a building he bought on Kennedy Memorial Drive — the former KeyBank satellite office.

“I’ve had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Fortier said. “I’m 71 years old. I shouldn’t be forced out of my office I’ve been at for 40 years, but I have no choice.”

Contacted Wednesday, some area restaurant owners said they do not experience the issues Fortier does on Silver Street.

“I’m not a late-night bar,” said Charlie Giguere, owner of Silver Street Tavern. “We’re primarily a restaurant, a local tavern. We’re only open until 10 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 9 p.m. the rest of the week.”

Kevin Joseph, owner of You Know Whose Pub on Merchant’s Way, responded similarly, saying his business closes between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on weekends and between 9 and 10 p.m. during the week. The pub faces The Concourse.

“I don’t see that activity that John’s talking about, at least at the pub,” Joseph said.

A man who answered the phone at the 18 Below restaurant on Silver Street but asked not to be identified said he doesn’t see such activity.

“You do have Cancun restaurant right next to State Farm; that’s probably where most of the action’s coming from. I know there’s activity on Friday and Saturdays — two or three police vehicles in The Concourse.”

Calls to Hector Fuentes, owner of Cancun, which is separated from State Farm by the alleyway, did not return two calls Wednesday. A message left for the Last Unicorn owner, John Picurro, also was not immediately returned. That eatery also is on Silver Street.

Bill Mitchell, who co-owns The Proper Pig restaurant on Common Street downtown, responded as Giguere and Joseph did.

“We at The Proper Pig have not experienced what John is describing happens on Silver Street,” Mitchell said.

Contacted Wednesday, Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said the last complaint his department received from Fortier was in June 2018 about his building having been vandalized by being spray painted.

“That’s not to say that John hasn’t been vocal in the past with other people, but that’s the last complaint,” Massey said.

The fire escape attached to Cancun Mexican Restaurant building, left, that has enabled downtown revelers to access the rooftop of John Fortier’s State Farm Insurance building, right, at 16 Silver St. in downtown Waterville. Drug deals, urination and defecation have taken place in the alley next to the State Farm building, according to Fortier. Fortier said he’s documented the activity on six motion-activated cameras he had installed on his building overlooking the alley next to the restaurant. Four of the cameras are shown at the top right. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

He said The Concourse is a very busy area at night because businesses are open late and police patrols increase there between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. and it is not unusual to see cruisers in The Concourse during that time, with officers monitoring activity.

“We think our high visibility is effective,” Massey said.

He said police have done some special details, particularly after Fortier reported activity in the alleyway, to watch the area for that activity.

“I don’t doubt for one moment that that alley is used for things it shouldn’t be used for,” Massey said.

He said Fortier has called police a number of times about parking issues near his business, but that had nothing to do with nighttime activity. Massey said he always tells people it is important to call police when they see such activity.

“I’m sure I told him (Fortier), please call us when it’s occurring,” he said.

City Manager Michael Roy said Wednesday that the proper way to report inappropriate activity is to call police.

“As far as City Hall goes, we haven’t received a lot of complaints about those kind of problems in and around Silver Street restaurants,” Roy said, “which, in a way, is good because if they call the police department, that’s where they should call, not here.”

Council Chairman Erik Thomas said at Tuesday’s council meeting that it appeared the activity started happening on Silver Street after the Bob-In nightclub on Temple Street closed a few years ago. Activities in and outside that establishment also drew police.

“Seems the problem that we had over there has moved across town,” Thomas said.

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