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Permit fees reduced for some food-vendor sites at Fort Williams Park

Cost to operate two of the four food-vendor sites available at Fort Williams Park next year will be cut in half - but so will the amount of space occupied by those sites.

The Town Council on Dec. 11, 2017 voted to reduce the minimum bids for two sites - one overlooking Ship Cove beach, the other on Capt. Strout Circle just south of Portland Head Light - from $4,000 to $2,000. The size of both sites was also reduced from 90 square feet to 50 square feet.

The changes were recommended this fall by the Fort Williams Park Committee in an effort to encourage the use of the vendor sites, keeping in mind the aesthetics of the park.

"We're lowering the price of a couple of sites because we don't get bids on these sites," said Mark Russell, chairman of the park committee.

At the same time, minimum bids for the two other sites - the "channel view" at the top of the hill opposite the flag pole, and on Capt. Strout Circle just north of lighthouse - were increased from $4,000 to $4,500.

The channel-view site has been occupied by the Bite Into Maine food truck for the last several seasons. The sizes of the other sites were reduced in part because of the traffic issues a larger food truck can cause. Russell said the site near Ship Cove might be moved closer to the beach to avoid obstructing traffic.

The food-vendor program at Fort Williams Park began as a pilot with three sites in 2011 [news article]. Fourteen vendors submitted bits that first season, and the fourth site at Ship Cove was added the following year.

This past season, however, only Bite Into Maine and Gorgeous Gelato submitted bids. The gelato vendor operated at the site north of the lighthouse. "At one time we had a hot dog stand down by the lighthouse as well, which was very well received he didn't bid after a year or so and we've yet to receive bids on that site since that time," Russell said. "We're willing, but we want to be very careful about what we allow in the park for these types of vendors. Trailers vary in size dramatically," he said.