The Trade Winds Inn can be seen Saturday in Rockland. Credit: Stephen Betts / BDN

ROCKLAND, Maine ― After nearly losing its ability to operate, one of the city’s largest and oldest hotels has been granted a 30-day extension on its lodging license.

Rockland City Council voted unanimously Monday night to give the Trade Winds Inn until mid-December to meet with city fire and code officials to conduct an inspection of the facility and come up with a plan for correcting any health and safety violations found. The extension is a reversal of an action taken by city councilors last week to deny renewing the lodging license for Trade Winds Inn without an extension.

Without the 30-day extension, the Trade Winds Inn would have been forced to cease operations last night.

Rockland Mayor Ed Glaser said that the council was motivated to consider granting the extension after receiving a letter from the hotel’s owner, Aimee Liberty, last week and hearing from the city’s fire chief that he felt the facility was moving in the right direction.

“All we’ve done is extend [the license] for a month to give the fire chief and the Liberty Hospitality group time to work out whatever issues they have, come up with a plan and if it meets the fire chief’s approval and the code office’s approval, we will then turn around next month and issue a yearlong permit,” Glaser said. “It’s definitely a probationary permit at this point.”

This is not the first time the Trade Winds has been at risk of losing its ability to operate. Most recently, in 2019,  they were given 30 days to fix a number of issues, including a lack of sprinkler heads and holes in the ceiling. Those issues were fixed and the hotel was allowed to continue operation.

In 2016, code violations at the hotel ― including household extension cords being used in ceilings of rooms and charred wiring near insulation ―  were broadcasted on national television when the facility was featured on an episode of the Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible.”

Those problems were remedied in 2016 after the city council gave the hotel’s management a 30-day extension on its lodging license.

For the last two months, the city council postponed renewing the Trade Winds lodging license after fire and code officials identified some deficiencies with the hotel’s sprinkler system that needed to be fixed, but hotel officials had yet to show proof that they were working to do so.

The city’s fire chief, Chris Whytock, also said they had been unable to inspect recently completed electrical work that was done without a permit.

City fire and code enforcement officials are conducting a facility-wide health and safety inspection at the Trade Winds Tuesday morning.

Whytock told councilors Monday night that he did not anticipate finding problems that couldn’t be remedied in a timely manner.

“Anywhere that code and fire does an inspection, any time we find anything egregious or severely life threatening we will take the proper steps to make sure that buildings and businesses are closed until they’re taken care of. I don’t think we’re going to find that there [Tuesday],” Whytock said. “I think we’re going to find the usual things that can be updated and maintained within a reasonable amount of time to keep everyone safe and business running.”

In her letter to council, Liberty took responsibility for her business’s shortcomings and vowed to fix the problems and better communicate with city staff.

“I acknowledge and accept that our team has not performed to your expectations, nor have we been in compliance with specific rules and regulations in some cases. I commit to changing that,” Liberty wrote in the letter.

Liberty suggested weekly meetings with city staff to establish consensus on priority projects at her facility, establish a timeline for the work to be completed and to get “city input on contractors to be hired to ensure quality and compliance objectives,” she said.

“I want to be a good corporate citizen, have a respectful relationship with your team and ensure a safe environment for my guests, employees, and our larger community. I will put my commitment in writing, and we can work together to reach our goals,” Liberty wrote in her letter.