Meeting tonight, March 4

UPDATED: Brass Compass issue headed back to city council

Mayor: 'I'm all for it.'
By Daniel Dunkle | Mar 04, 2013
Photo by: Daniel Dunkle Lynn Archer owns the Brass Compass Cafe in Rockland.

Rockland — In what is becoming a spring tradition in Rockland, city council will look at a request from the Brass Compass Cafe to have outdoor seating in part of the neighboring Winslow-Holbrook Memorial Park.

The restaurant has been providing outdoor seating in the park at the corner Park and Main Streets since 2005.

"I'm all for it," said Mayor Will Clayton March 4.


Timeline of Brass Compass controversy


April — Some Rockland businesses sign petition against tables in the park. Local veterans oppose the use of the park.

April 9 — City council votes 3-2 to reject Brass Compass use of Winslow-Holbrook Park. Councilors Elizabeth Dickerson and Will Clayton voted to approve it.

May 14 — City council votes 3-2 again to shoot down the tables at the park. The council talked about plans for granite tables and improvements to the park.

May 22 — City workers chop down aspen tree in Winslow-Holbrook Park.

June 5 — Tensions run high at city council. Mayor Brian Harden throws his hat at Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson during a council meeting, and she throws it back. She then overturns a near-empty soda can in front of Harden's seat.

June 11 — Council votes 5-0 to allow some tables in the park at a cost to Brass Compass of $1,200.

Nov. 6 — Mayor Brian Harden, who voted against the tables in the park twice in the spring, was defeated in the election for city council by Frank Isganitis. Will Clayton would be elected mayor.


Feb. 25 — Brass Compass owner Lynn Archer applies to city to use 12-foot strip of park for tables.

On Feb. 25, Brass Compass Owner Lynn Archer submitted a letter to the city seeking to use a 12-foot-wide strip bordering the building at 305 Main St. for outside food service.

The park serves as a memorial to two World War I veterans. Family members of those veterans, American Legion Post veterans and some local business people have argued in the past that the park should be reserved for a memorial.

The tables were the subject of a lengthy and heated controversy in Rockland City Council meetings in spring 2012. Asked if she expected this to happen again this year, Archer said, "I hope not."

"It's a different council," the restaurant owner said in by phone March 4. "It's a different economy. People are needing their jobs."

She said she hopes the council will look on the issue favorably rather than having the community "up in arms" as it was last year.

The 12-foot-wide space is what the restaurant was able to use the year before last at a cost of $25 per table, according to Archer. She said last year the council, when it finally allowed tables at all, charged her $1,200 for the use of a six-foot-wide space.

She said she doesn't believe it is fair to deny her the use of the park on the grounds that it remembers veterans. She noted that the park next to Dunkin' Donuts in Rockland has been used for parking for free for years.

If there is a limit on use of memorial parks, she said it should be across-the-board in the city, not just for The Brass Compass.

Clayton said he does not see the controversy heating up like it did last year in part because he believes frustrations were vented last year and in part because there are new personalities this year.

Mayor Brian Harden, who opposed the tables in the park last year, was defeated in the November election by Frank Isganitis and Clayton was elected mayor by the new council.

City Manager James Smith said the council will have the flexibility to determine whether to allow the tables. He said the council plans to look in April at the cost of proposed improvements to the park, but said even if the improvements are made, the council could decide to let The Brass Compass usage co-exist in the park.

The council will look at the letter at its meeting Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be an agenda-setting meeting in preparation for next week's city council meeting.

News Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at Follow him on twitter at @DanDunkle.

Comments (7)
Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Mar 05, 2013 00:10

Here we go again . . . .

Spending $ on the park? What about spending $ and repair some of the city streets?

It would seem that the Councilors enjoy this yearly Merry go round every year. Power trip anyone?

Issue a multi-year [10?] permit and collect exactly what is charged to other biz for outdoor seating. Then get back to real urgent biz.







Posted by: Valerie Wass | Mar 04, 2013 19:40

I am sure hoping with the new city mayor, we won't have anymore embarrassing articles about the city government.  Hopefully!

Posted by: glen r thompson | Mar 04, 2013 18:19

Lynn is one smart hard-working young lady and a major asset to Rockland.  I can not for the life of me understand the ordeal she has had to go through year after year.  Could it be jealousy?  Why isn't she given a long-term perpetual lease the way most other cities do?  This power the city council holds over her each year is a disgrace.  Not something one would expect from an All American town!  A side note:  I recall the City has discussed putting stone benches in the park.  Is this what you really want?  How many have ventured downtown in the wee morning hours after the bars have closed?  Believe me, not a pretty sight.  Do you want to make it even more comfortable than  it already is for these  people?

Posted by: Wilber Eugene Roman Sr. | Mar 04, 2013 15:39

There is something obviously wrong with the city council and their way of thinking.When they allow a building to set there as a representation of Santas house with the North Pole mail box  along with commercializing FOR SALE signs on it for all to see,and they seem to think seating on the side is wrong.Lynn Archer pays a crap load of money for the seating for a handfull of seasonal months and you'd have to ask yourself just how much was paid to have Santas building in there. The Brass Compass draws a lot of business to the downtown main street as a great spot to take a break from shopping in the near by businesses for a peaceful lunch in down town Rockland.Smarten up city council,put the daggers away and enjoy a great meal in the park and try being a "people watcher" as you eat.


Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Mar 04, 2013 15:21

Don't make this another embarrassing discussion. The council has had a year to come up with an equitable solution. Lynn is a hardworking, positive, "Can Do" asset for our community. Let's treat her as such.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Mar 04, 2013 14:17

Let the people complaining forget that Santa's shed sat in that park and there where FOR SALE signs on it several times.  What is the difference???  Can someone who is upset about a local business trying to make a living locally, explain to me WHY they are upset about a few tables enhancing the look of this park that would otherwise be over run by trash?


Posted by: BETSY A FEYLER | Mar 04, 2013 14:10

If Santa and his little house can be in the middle of the park Lynn can have her 12 ft. off to the side.

Was Santa a veteran ??


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