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Rockland gives 30-day reprieve to Trade Winds Inn

By Stephen Betts | Oct 21, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Rockland City Council declined Wednesday night to renew the lodging license for the Trade Winds Inn because of numerous and repeat code violations. The fire department responded to multiple fires at the motel in May.

Rockland — Rockland granted the Trade Winds Inn a temporary extension of its lodging license with the requirement that a lengthy list of code violations be corrected within 30 days.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said the decision was made Friday, Oct.18. The city manager said Robert Liberty agreed to have the repairs made within 15 days.

The action comes after the Rockland City Council voted 4-0 Wednesday night, Oct. 16 to postpone renewal of the license for the 99-room motel on Park Drive that overlooks Rockland Harbor after the fire chief discussed problems at the complex.

The license expired Oct. 15.

City administrators, however, can renew the license once for 30 days to give the business time to repair the deficiencies. That would require agreement of the fire chief, police chief, code enforcement officer and city manager and would extend the license only to Nov. 15.

The City Council is expected to take up the issue again at its Nov. 13 meeting.

Fire Chief Christopher Whytock addressed the City Counci at the Oct. 16 meeting, pointing out that the city fire department and Maine Fire Marshal's Office have conducted follow up inspections after a couple fires occurred May 9 at the motel.

He said there was a follow up inspection in September and more recently and while some of the problems were corrected, the list of deficiencies remains lengthy.

These problems include a lack of sprinkler heads in areas of the motel that have been renovated over the years. There are also open areas in ceilings which can lead to fires spreading faster, the chief said.

Other issues such as use of extension cords, doors that don't latch, and clutter are ones that can be corrected quickly, he said.

"We're more than willing to be business friendly," Whytock said, but stressed that many of the problems are ones that are found each year.

"I start feeling that we're wasting our time to go back and nothing is done," the chief said.

He said that it is coming to the point where a more tough enforcement stance will have to be taken. He pointed out that all the fire safety codes were "written in blood" meaning they developed after tragedies elsewhere.

Councilor Valli Geiger said she has no interest in extending the license because of the grave risk.

This is not the first time that the Trade Winds lodging license has been at risk.

In October 2016, the City Council held off renewal following a report of code violations. That occurred shortly after the motel's deficiencies were widely publicized in an episode of the reality TV show “Hotel Impossible

At that meeting, Councilor Geiger said the motel had a complete disregard for safety and Rockland codes and embarrassed Rockland nationally.

In the show titled “The Pain in Maine,” the Travel Channel show reported finding numerous violations of safety codes. Those included household extension cords being used in ceilings of rooms and charred wiring near insulation. There also were problems found with the room where the fire alarm control panels were located. The show also pointed out that that the kitchen had been closed by a state health inspector shortly before the television crew arrived.

Whytock said Oct. 16 that he would be satisfied if the hotel provided him a list of repairs that would be completed within 30 days.

The license also covers the restaurant in the motel which is leased to a separate party, the chief said.

The motel was built in the mid-1960s and has undergone several expansions over the decades.

A telephone message was left Thursday morning for owner Aimee Liberty.

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Comments (13)
Posted by: Ananur Forma | Oct 24, 2019 10:25

Dangerous, I say shut it down until all problems are complete.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Oct 22, 2019 14:48

What would happen if the Maine Department of Health went to inspect?

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 22, 2019 14:40

We want to be prepared for another lightening strike like hit Rubenstein's antique store and the old Congregational Church.  :(



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Oct 22, 2019 12:40

Now, the video was taped back in 2016.  I am sure that changes have been made.  Watch the video, form your own opinion.  Keep in mind that we do not know if or how many violations the Management of the Tradewinds has fixed.  NEVER HIRE FAMILY!  This seems to have been the major problem back in 2016.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Oct 22, 2019 12:23

Hotel Impossible-Tradewinds 11/22/2016

Posted by: Valli Genevieve Geiger | Oct 22, 2019 12:22

Mr. Hayward, this was not a decision made by city council. We did not approve an extension and we were not asked to approve an extension. This was the City Manager's decision. It did not require permission by City Council, instead it lies within the authority of our city manager. While I disagree with the decision, it was his to make and I am confident it was made with his typical thoughtfulness.

Valli Geiger

Rockland City Councilor

Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Oct 21, 2019 16:06

"Try to be business friendly" is not the correct attitude when it comes to the safety of Motels and Hotels.  When someone checks in to a room, they should be assured of having a safe room that's up to code.  That's part of what they are paying for...Not, "up to code eventually."  When the relatives of dead families discover the city extended and extended the violations, HUGE lawsuit.   Doesn't say much for the fire Marshall either.  A better policy is to find the problems before the fire...not, use your job to try discover the cause after the fact.  Sad  - Steve

Posted by: Sam Charlton | Oct 21, 2019 14:54

What makes Mr. Liberty thinks that the many deficiencies can be corrected in 15 days? He's had since 2016, when these same problems were brought to the public's eye via the television to get things fixed!

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 21, 2019 13:14

Dale, enough of them in bed together to fill it.

Posted by: George Terrien | Oct 17, 2019 14:27

Really?  How do "problems [that] include a lack of sprinkler heads in areas of the motel that have been renovated over the years" survive the occupancy inspection by state and Rockland authorities?  Not possible, unless the renovators glued sprinkler heads to the ceiling or just stuck on the concealed head caps, with no heads behind them.  If neither excuse can be made (to what I hope would be the criminal indictment of the owner and the contractors), is the problem one of  not enough staff in the Code Enforcement Office?  We need to get on the ball, and stop rolling it around ho-hum, I think.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 17, 2019 11:36

Good news! Tragedy waiting to happen. Just fortunate the two fires they had were during the day when they were caught early. Chief Whytock is on the ball!

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 17, 2019 11:04

Too many hands in the pie ? One would think it is busy enough to afford keeping up to code. Perhaps these short term rentals are cutting into profits. It is tough financially to operate a business and rely on tourist.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Oct 17, 2019 09:23

If city council, et al, approve even a temporary license and a fire were to break out with personal injuries and/or property damages, the city entities could be successfully sued. Is Rockland weighing "Business Friendly" over the safety of customers?

-Phyllis Merriam

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