ORONO, Maine — Two and a half months after a massive party created what authorities called near riot conditions at a new apartment complex in Orono, life at The Grove is much calmer.
“Since that first weekend, we haven’t had anything anywhere near the level of that. We haven’t seen the rampant party-in-the-street thing,” said Orono police Capt. Josh Ewing. “Although there may be ongoing parties happening up there, nothing has risen to the level of what we saw the first weekend of September.”
On that weekend, several police agencies were called in over a two-night period to break up parties that drew 300 to 400 people to a single parking lot at The Grove, which had opened just five days earlier on Aug. 29.
The weekend melee resulted in only one arrest, but a crackdown over the following weekend netted a total of four arrests and 28 summonses for possession of alcoholic beverages, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and refusal to submit to arrest.
Those weekends appear to be a thing of the past more than two months later, thanks to increased security measures instituted by North Carolina-based Campus Crest Communities Inc., which owns and operates The Grove.
“In early August, shortly after move-in, we increased our security measures and implemented stricter facility access controls,” Rob Dann, chief operating officer of Campus Crest Communities, said in a statement. “We contracted with a local security company that regularly patrols the property and monitors for suspicious activity, and we have community assistants on call 24/7 to assist and respond to residents.”
The stepped-up security measures seem to have had the desired effect.
“From our perspective, we’re not responding to a lot of complaints over there,” said Ewing. “We’re not really receiving any complaints.”
Ewing said police did receive some vandalism complaints the weekend of Nov. 17-18.
“We did have a criminal mischief at 1 a.m. A male suspect was snapping side mirrors on cars in front of building two,” Ewing said. “Four vehicles … parked in the same area were damaged” on Nov. 19.
Ewing said other reports were minor, including a Friday night complaint about someone smashing bottles inside or outside an apartment.
“We had a couple of noise complaints, but that’s par for the course and it wasn’t anything out of control — a moderate party with loud music,” Ewing said.
The only other complaint requiring a police response was a drunk and disorderly complaint one weekend night that was called in by security. Orono police officers separated people and calmed the situation, and there were no arrests or charges.
“We don’t generally get that many calls initially, and when we do get called up there, we usually don’t have to do anything more than issue warnings,” Ewing said. “Nine times out of 10, we haven’t had to go back up for a second complaint and issue any charges or [make] arrests.”
Ewing said Grove security is handling most problems before they get to the police.
“Our security gates, which require a radio frequency identification key when residents decide to enter or leave the property, are fully operational and have been since move-in,” Dann said in his emailed statement. “As an added level of security, we have a working video surveillance system that monitors the gate areas and other high-traffic areas.”
Dann went on to point out that Campus Crest Communities also would be installing an additional video surveillance system located near the property’s “townhomes.” He said that will increase the company’s ability to quickly respond to and mitigate any potential disturbances.
The Grove — located about a half-mile from the Rangeley Road entrance to the University of Maine — is made up of a dozen buildings with 12 apartments in each as well as another eight four-bedroom units called “townhomes.” The entire facility has a 620-tenant capacity.