Mounting competition between public and private parking operators at the Portland International Jetport has produced a strategically placed pile of snow, and an apology from the responsible city official.

The melting gray mound obscures a sign that was installed Thursday on the back side of Park ’N Jet, a private valet parking lot that Tom Toye started operating in November on property he owns. The sign was clearly visible to drivers leaving the jetport’s parking garage and long-term parking lot.

Late Friday afternoon, at the end of a snow-free sunny day, a jetport subcontractor piled snow 20 feet high in front of the sign, blocking it from public view, Toye’s lawyer said in a letter sent Tuesday to City Manager Mark Rees and Mayor Michael Brennan.

Jetport Director Paul Bradbury told Toye in February that he didn’t want the city-approved sign to be installed, and that he would take steps to block it if it was, said the letter from Kelly McDonald, Toye’s lawyer.

Bradbury admits he made those statements during a friendly conversation with Toye and blames the snow pile on a subcontractor of the jetport’s parking contractor, Standard Parking Corp.

“I think we have some overzealous parking operators,” Bradbury said Tuesday. “There’s no question there’s some competition.”

Sheila Hill-Christian, Portland’s deputy city manager, said city officials regret that the situation “has gotten out of control.” She said that Bradbury planned to apologize to Toye, and that Bradbury and other city officials hope to resume what has been a cordial relationship with Toye.

Bradbury called Toye on Tuesday afternoon to apologize.

“He apologized and took responsibility for it happening,” Toye said. “He said he was aware of it happening and that it shouldn’t have. He put the blame on the subcontractor, but I doubt they would do it on their own without getting paid for it.”

Toye, a prominent businessman who lives in Cape Elizabeth, has owned his jetport property for 40 years. He also owns commercial property in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood that he proposed as a new location for regional offices of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Toye has filed a lawsuit contesting the state’s selection of a proposal to locate the offices in South Portland.

Toye’s jetport property was most recently leased to a car-rental company that moved out in October. In November, Toye began operating the only valet parking service at the airport. His lot can hold a maximum of 300 vehicles at a cost of $10 per day.

Long-term parking in the jetport’s garage and surface lot costs $12 per day. The jetport has 2,664 parking spaces, Christian said.

In the letter to city officials, Toye’s lawyer demanded that no snow be added to the pile and threatened to take legal action against any further trespass on Toye’s property or “malicious sign blockage.”

By Tuesday, the pile was about 15 feet tall. Toye figures it will melt away soon, so he doesn’t expect the city to remove it. He hopes it will be gone by early next week, when the sign’s electronic message board is expected to be functioning.

Bradbury said Standard Parking’s subcontractor is expected to remove what’s left of the pile while cleaning up from a snowstorm that’s expected to start Wednesday.

“Ultimately, Mr. Bradbury is responsible for the operation of the jetport,” Christian said. “It’s our responsibility to make sure that everyone behaves respectfully. In our minds, the buck stops here.”

Kelley Bouchard can be reached at 791-6328 or at:

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