Rowdy, and sometimes lawless, gatherings in the parking lot at the top of Belfast Common brought several nearby homeowners to City Hall June 20 asking for relief.

Paul Naron, who lives on Union Street directly across from the parking lot, read a letter from his neighbor Pam Howard stating that people regularly hang out in the parking lot until 1 a.m., often keeping her awake. Naron added details from his own experience.

"You have these kids standing up on their cars partying all night long and skateboarding," he said. "It's basically completely out of control down there."

Carol Good, who lives across the park on Commercial Street, corroborated her neighbors' stories but said her main concern is criminal activity, which is a greater problem and one with less gray area than loitering.

"You can't just ask people to move out of the park, and move on," she said. "But I think if patrols were there, then the (criminal) activity that's going on would be more obvious."

Another Union Street resident, Andy Stevenson, suggested shutting off the parking lot light to make the area less inviting. He added the light itself made it difficult to sleep in his house across the street and he installed blackout curtains. Naron seconded the idea of turning off the light.

Several of the neighbors alluded to drug use among the young adults who regularly hang out in the parking lot. Skateboarding was also called out as a problem, though it was unclear whether the neighbors objected to the noise or something else.

Councilors agreed use of the parking lot was out of control, but they had a hard time agreeing on a solution that could be enforced fairly without stifling non-nuisance use of the park at night.

Police Chief Mike McFadden suggested closing the parking lot after a certain hour. This would avoid any subjective calls about disruptive behavior, he said.

"We've got two factions that, even in a perfect world, when both are acting reasonably, they could be a bother to one another," McFadden said. "The kids or young people in the parking lot, even if they're having normal conversations, would be disruptive to a person who's trying to get to sleep with their window open."

Councilors and some neighbors agree there is an inherent problem with trying to stop people from loitering at a park, which Councilor Neal Harkness noted is a place set aside for that exact purpose.

After several go-rounds on what could and couldn't be done, the council settled on closing the parking lot at 9 p.m., banning skateboarding there, giving residents of the homes on Union Street parking permits to park overnight, and giving police the authority to leave the lot open for city-sponsored events like Maine Celtic Celebration.

Celtic Celebration lives

A year ago the future of Maine Celtic Celebration was looking about as bright as January in Glasgow. Organizers of the multi-day event, then in its 10th year, announced they were bowing out after several years of trying, unsuccessfully, to find younger replacements. The 2016 event was declared the last.

On June 20, Steve and Belle Ryan of Belfast told city councilors the festival would, in fact, return, July 14-16, with all of the usual music, arts, and oddball events like the cheese roll, and the Highland heavy games, "where large people throw heavy objects incredible distances for no real reason," Belle Ryan said.

New this year will be a live exhibition of Renaissance life by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Organizers are seeking volunteers — about 200 are ultimately needed — typically for shifts of two hours. For more information, email or call 338-2692.

In other business, the council:

• Approved a general plan for police officers to carry the emergency medicine NARCAN®, which can revive people who have overdosed on opioid narcotics.

• Approved fees for large groups that use City Park pool. Rates are $25 for 10 to 25 and $50 for 25 to 50 people.

• Approved a change in sewer fees that targets increased use of the city's wastewater treatment plant rather than only charging for new connections to city sewer lines. City Planner Wayne Marshall said certain residential additions would incur one-time fees — building an accessory two-bedroom structure on a property would cost about $320. The larger fees, however, would come from increased commercial use. "A restaurant that goes from 40 to 80 seats is going to pay real money," Marshall said, "perhaps $6,000 to $7,000 in fees." Councilors raised no objections.

• Forestalled the sale of foreclosed properties until Aug. 15, from July 18. City Manager Joe Slocum said some of the properties have been redeemed and requested the date be changed because he expected there would be too much going on in the middle of July.