PORTLAND — A landscaping crew started removing Portland’s unpopular “Tracing the Fore” landscape sculpture from Boothby Square on Monday.

Derek Mathieu, supervisor of a four-man crew from Coastal Lawn Care in Cumberland, said it would take three days to remove all traces of the stainless-steel structures and underground concrete anchors and then seed the space with grass.

The sculpture has been widely criticized since it was installed in 2006. Business owners and residents in particular have criticized it as ugly, dangerous and out of place.

The city spent more than $135,000 on the piece, after choosing the design of Shauna Gillies-Smith of Cambridge, Mass., in a national competition. But what was envisioned by the artist as undulating grass and steel evoking the Fore River turned into a weed patch.

The city sold the sculpture for $100 to PWM Land in Portland. PWM Manager Scott Cohen said the piece will be installed in an undisclosed sculpture garden in North Deering. PWM is paying the cost of the removal, estimated at $9,000.

On Monday, drivers who passed through Boothby Square honked horns and hooted.

“Most of them are happy,” Mathieu said.

But not everyone. Scott Tubby, manager of the nearby George Anderson Gallery at 340 Fore St., watched the work progress as he painted, and called the scene a waste.

“It was visually interesting. If only the city could have worked with the artist to find some compromise,” Tubby said.

But Shawn McCarthy, owner of the Dock Fore bar in Boothby Square, was busy planning an “Erasing the Fore” party for Wednesday. McCarthy will offer special prices, and he hopes to get other restaurants and merchants to join in.

“Everybody is glad to see it go,” he said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: bquimby@pressherald.com