The ancient Romans leave us this maxim; “De gustibus non est disputandum,” or “On matters of taste there can be no dispute.”

The Romans were wise and understood that aesthetic preferences are subjective and no one could be right or wrong, so there was no point arguing over whether a piece of art is “good” or “bad.”

The Romans also knew a thing or two about public art, and it would be interesting to know what they would have done about “Tracing the Fore,” an installation made of stainless steel and live grasses, designed to resemble a moving river at Boothby Square in the Old Port.

That’s what it was designed to resemble, anyway. What it actually resembles, in the opinion of the Fore Street business owners who are forced to look at every day, is a weed-choked yard with some metal blades sticking out of the ground.

It’s hard to find a fan of “Tracing the Fore,” but it’s not hard to find people who can’t stand it. While it can be good for public art to provoke discussion and differences of opinion, it’s not supposed to make people angry.

The piece was installed by Portland’s Public Art Committee, which should be applauded for placing a challenging and original contemporary work in a historic context.

But three years after its unveiling, the grass has never grown in as intended, the weeds have never subsided, and even the Public Art Committee recognizes that the piece just doesn’t work.

Neighborhood businesses have threatened to go to the city for relief, but it shouldn’t have to go that far.

This is not a case where people are arguing over a matter of taste. The committee should handle this itself.

It’s time to explore all options for replacing the piece with something better suited for this prime location.