ROCKLAND, Maine — The owner of the Brass Compass was so upset after the City Council voted Monday night to end her nearly decade-long use of a strip of city property to serve customers outside that she said she could not comment.
Her supporters, however, urged owner Lynn Archer to persevere as they gathered around her outside City Hall after the council’s 3-2 vote to refuse to allow the Brass Compass to place 10 tables along a 12-foot strip at Winslow-Holbrook Square.
The vote came after supporters and opponents of the continued use of the land spoke before the council.
Mayor Brian Harden said he felt so pressured on the divisive issue that he wanted more time to discuss use of the downtown square at the intersection of Main Street and Park Drive.
“Everyone needs to calm down and let us breathe,” Harden said.
The mayor said the city needs to balance the competing interest of honoring the two veterans for whom the park is named, allowing art in the park as was done when the Farnsworth Art Museum exhibited a sculpture there, the desire of the Brass Compass to use the space, what to do with the remainder of the park, and how to respond to 25 other business owners who have signed a petition claiming that it was unfair for the Brass Compass to use the space.
Harden claimed that many business owners refused to come and speak at this week’s meeting because someone had threatened a boycott of one of the businesses if it did not withdraw its name from the petition.
Councilors Eric Hebert and Larry Pritchett said the city needs to examine all the issues before acting on the Brass Compass request.
The Brass Compass has used land adjacent to the restaurant for eight years and paid $250 last summer for the 10 tables. The restaurant owns a small strip that is at most 4 feet wide.
Councilor Will Clayton said he was disappointed the issue had become so contentious. He urged the public not to boycott businesses because of how they stand on the matter.
“Grow up a little and act responsibly,” Clayton said before voting for allowing the Brass Compass to use the land again this summer.
Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson said the city can both respect the World War I veterans who the park is named and allow the Brass Compass to use the land.
“We can have respect and employment at the same time,” Dickerson said.
The park is named for Lt. Albert Holbrook and Pvt. Arthur Winslow, two Rockland residents who died in World War I.
Archer said the city allows commercial use of public land on many occasions. She noted the city allows the farmers’ market and festivals to use Harbor Park and downtown businesses are allowed to place tables on public sidewalks.
She noted she employs people at both the Brass Compass and her other city restaurant, Archer’s on the Pier. She also said that she has cleaned the park, which was largely unused before she began using it nearly a decade ago.
She had presented the council last week with a petition signed by 300 people supporting her continued use of the land.