On a recent visit to Portland, I was alarmed to see an increased number of vagrants since my last visit.

One particular group of four occupied benches is in what I was told is known as Bell Buoy Park, situated directly in front of the Portland fireboat. Posted in the park are three separate city-placed signs: One sign cites the city’s ban on smoking in city parks, another sign states “no loitering” and the third announces that drinking in public is a violation of city ordinances.

It was obvious to me, and to a couple I spoke with from Minnesota who just disembarked from a cruise ship, that these ordinances are not being enforced.

A few moments later, I spoke to one of the vendors along Commercial Street. When I told her what I saw and how disgusting it was to see this in a bustling tourist area, she informed me that numerous calls made by herself and other proprietors in the area, to the police and city officials, had produced no results.

After coming to Portland for a few years now, I am saddened to realize that there is apparently no difference in the eyes of city officials between vagrants and homeless people who may have fallen temporarily on hard times.

Vikki Yoakum

Hampton, N.H.


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