Grab your bathing suit and Swimmies, because this summer a 1,000 foot water slide is coming to Portland.

The City Council on Monday approved a “Slide the City” event for Aug. 1 that will convert the northbound lanes of Franklin Street into a giant water slide. The event is expected to draw 2,000 to 5,000 people.

But councilors postponed a vote on whether to allow a temporary pop-up park near the Press Hotel that would close a small portion of Federal Street for about four months beginning in June.

Slide the City is a national company that holds events featuring a long piece of vinyl and lots of water. Sliders ride an inflated tube down the slippery slope.

An undisclosed portion of the proceeds will go to a local charity or the city. Details were not available on Monday.

According to Slide the City website, Portland participants would pay $15 to $55 for a ticket. Sliders receive a tube, a mouth guard and drawstring bag. Ticket types are for one slide, three slides and VIP – an unlimited number of slides.

Resident Steven Scharf opposed the proposal because it will be run by a private for-profit corporation and up to 80,000 gallons of water could be used and discharged into the city’s combined sewer overflow system.

“A water slide on a city street? I’m perplexed why we would allow a private entity to create a business for one day on a city street,” Scharf said. “I just can’t understand why the city would ever conceive this is something that would benefit Portland and its residents.”

Troy Moon, the city’s environmental programs manager, said the city looked into recirculating the water, but that would have required the addition of chlorine. “It just wasn’t practical to do.”

Councilors supported the proposal, noting that the city often closes streets for recreational events. Councilor Jill Duson cited Sundays on the Boulevard as an example.

“I think it’s an attraction, it’s part of the energy of the city,” she said.

The 1,000 foot Slip N’ Slide would be located on the northbound lanes of Franklin Street from Cumberland Avenue to Fox Street. Traffic heading west on Fox Street would be detoured onto Diamond Street. Eastbound traffic on Somerset Street would only be allowed to turn right. Traffic would flow regularly on Marginal Way and the south-bound lanes of Franklin Street.

The closures have been reviewed and approved by the Maine Department of Transportation.


Councilors postponed until May 4 a vote on whether the Press Hotel would be allowed to close Federal Street between Exchange to Market streets to create a temporary park that would feature live entertainment from June 5 to Oct 12.

The area would be spruced up with benches, carpeting and lights for a series of performances including acoustic music, one-act plays, poetry readings, art exhibits, film, dance and circus performances.

Areas businesses, such as Swiss Time and Optical Expressions, which don’t get a lot of tourist traffic, opposed the pop-up park because of parking and safety concerns. They were not notified about the idea until late in the process.

Stephanie Guyot, owner of Swiss Time, a 40-year-old family business, said her customers rely on parking and being able to get in and out of the area easily. She welcomed the hotel, but not at the expense of parking.

“We feel enough is enough. The hotel has already taken 10 spaces on Exchange Street and other spaces on Market Street,” Guyot said. “If this was for a weekend, this wouldn’t a big deal. Four months is a long time to close a city street.”

Councilors generally supported the plan, but postponed the vote to give staff more time to work with concerned businesses.

“I think it’s a great idea, but it does have an obvious impact,” Councilor Jill Duson said.

Members of the council’s transportation committee recommended approval of the proposal. Councilor Jon Hinck said the committee heard that businesses had not been made aware of the proposal until recently.

“All I can say that the outreach was not sufficient,” Hinck said.

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