Dr. Kieran Kammerer, of Hallowell Woodworks LLC, reinstalls a “Hallowell PRIDE” sculpture Thursday in Granite City Park in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

HALLOWELL — The City Council this week narrowly approved a policy for the placement of art, structures, flags and other installations on public property, in response to a Pride installation celebrating those who are LGBTQ.

With one councilor abstaining, three in favor, and three opposed, Mayor George Lapointe split the tie Monday night by voting in the affirmative.

Lapointe on Thursday said the policy was introduced as a way for residents to have clear guidance if they want to create any art for public display in the city.

“There were a couple times when people put artwork up, … and we didn’t have a process for vetting or giving permission,” he said. “We had some residents ask questions about it, and so we drafted that policy to clarify the process.”

Lapointe said the policy was specifically brought up after Hallowell resident and artist Kieran Kammerer installed a metal structure with the words “Hallowell Pride” near the flags in Granite City Park. In order to ensure that all citizens are treated fairly, the mayor said he asked Kammerer to take down the installation, but allowed him to reinstall the piece once he formally requested the city’s permission.

Kammerer reinstalled the structure late Thursday morning.

Dr. Kieran Kammerer, of Hallowell Woodworks LLC, reinstalls a “Hallowell PRIDE” sculpture Thursday in Granite City Park in Hallowell. Mayor George Lapointe said he asked Kammerer to take down the installation, but allowed him to reinstall the piece once he formally requested the city’s permission. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

The policy, which went into affect Monday, requires city permission for all installations on public property. Requests must include a description of the type of installation and its features, a location for the piece, and a specific time period for the installation to remain on public property, along with the installation owner.

Residents must submit these requests to the city manager, who will review it along with the code enforcement officer and public works foreman. If the request is specifically to install art, and not a flag or other structure, then the Hallowell Arts and Cultural Committee must review the request as well.

According to the approved policy, this review will ensure the materials used in the installation are durable, the installation is secure and its integrity does not pose a threat to public safety, there are no liability issues associated with the installation. The review will also consider the installation’s placement relative to other nearby features such as flag poles benches, and trails.

After the review, the request will go to City Council and they will determine if it is consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan, Welcoming Resolution, and if it meets the goal of being accessible and inclusive, so residents of varying cultures and identities feel safe, welcomed and appreciated.

Dr. Kieran Kammerer, of Hallowell Woodworks LLC, reinstalls a “Hallowell PRIDE” sculpture Thursday in Granite City Park in Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

He said the review process is fairly simple, as it mostly ensures if the structure is safe and consistent with the city’s policies. And with the council meeting once a month, he said it gives residents time to set up their request for approval at an upcoming meeting.

Hallowell’s installation policy comes as neighboring Augusta has been weighing whether it needs an official flag policy, also in response to the display of Pride-related messaging.

The split vote, according to the mayor, was primarily a result of councilor concerns about potential First Amendment issues that could come occur if a resident is denied a request that officials deem offensive.

“Say I’m a member of a hate group, and I put up something hateful. I think this (policy) clearly says that if it was inconsistent with city policies and proclamations we would have a way of saying no,” he said, “but different people will have different interpretations. I think that’s one of our concerns as we look ahead.”

He said councilors were not opposed to the essence of the policy, but rather concerns about potential gray area and how it could be used in the future.

While the policy is official as of Monday night, Lapointe said he and councilors acknowledged that the it may need to be changed over time, adding that it is currently being reviewed by the city solicitor.


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