September 16, 2013

Letters to the editor: Public restroom no help if it is locked

I am a vendor at the Portland Farmers' Market. On Aug. 31, I returned to the market at Deering Oaks after several weeks' absence.

click image to enlarge

A vendor at the Portland Farmers’ Market at Deering Oaks wasn’t happy to find the public bathroom doors locked recently.

2010 File Photo/Jill Brady

When I was last there, the historic building in the park above the pond was offering clean bathrooms to the hundreds of park visitors in need of them. Those of us who know just when the bathrooms are available can limit or enjoy coffee or other drinks according to need or want.

But the building opens at 10 a.m., making for a long wait for those of us who leave home in the dark in order to get to the market before 7 a.m. Not all vendors want or are able to equip their truck or car with bathroom equipment.

And so around 10:15 on Aug. 31, I walked down to the building, where three to four people stood waiting impatiently at the locked door. (The outhouses in the park at the beginning of market season were gone.)

I returned to my stand and called the police, hoping to get a quick remedy for those of us preferring an accepted outlet rather than a friendly tree or bush.

The response I got was an offer to try to contact Mr. Z in Department Q re: the problem. Realizing the wait could extend indefinitely, I packed up my car and drove off, missing the most profitable part of the market.

This is no way to treat the paying, licensed vendors and the visitors who come expecting to enjoy nature in reasonable comfort.

As I drove by the locked building, the first group waiting for access to the bathroom had left. A few new individuals stood by the locked door with pained expressions on some faces.

Is there no backup to deal promptly and effectively with such problems? Based on that Saturday, the answer is "no"!

Betsy Mitchell


MaineCare ride service leaves riders in limbo

I'd like to talk to you all about the new transportation broker system, Coordinated Transportation Solutions.

In our state, adults with disabilities and a lot of people with MaineCare depend on transportation -- this is how we function every day.

CTS took charge of transportation Aug. 1. CTS is not dependable and not organized. Since this new transportation system started, we (those who depend on transportation) have developed anxieties about transportation.

Sometimes, our rides have not been showing up to get us where we are going or pick us up at the end of the day. This new system was supposed to make it better, but it made it a lot worse.

Transportation is definitely a barrier in Maine for people with disabilities. It's harder on us. This new system is not reliable, and we depend on it.

I'd like to list our needs for transportation: We need rides to get to day programs, doctor's appointments and work. Our rides don't show up and we don't know when they are coming -- or going. It feels like we are getting stranded.

When we call CTS to cancel rides, sometimes they show up anyway. Also, when I have called, I have been put on hold for one hour before they answer. And also, I have not been able to leave a message. CTS has poor communication skills.

When we need the rides, sometimes they don't show up. I have had this experience myself. I love my job and I need a ride there. 

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