SOUTHWEST HARBOR — In order to free up parking spaces for those working on the water, the Harbor Committee voted earlier this week to ban customers of a local ferry company from using of one of the town’s parking lots.
Ultimately such a decision rests with the selectmen, who decided Tuesday not to act on the recommendation. Earlier this summer, concerned about ferry passengers parking in a town lot in Manset, selectmen discussed posting signs encouraging ferry passengers to park at the Upper Town Dock lot.
The committee recommended not allowing parking at the Upper Town Dock on Clark Point Road for customers of the Cranberry Cove Ferry service.
The seasonal commuter ferry stops at both the Upper Town Dock and the Cranberry Isles dock in Manset to pick up passengers. In the spring and fall, until Oct. 1, there are four pick ups, seven days a week and during the summer season, July 1-Aug. 31, there are five pick ups, seven days a week.
“I have been reminded in public that these are public ways,” Selectman Kristin Hutchins said. “Once you’ve decided that these people are worthy of the benefit and these aren’t … it get’s a little tricky.”
A local fishermen told the Harbor Committee it was frustrating not to be able to find parking when he needed to get out on the water to work early in the morning.
“It’s tough on a fisherman to make his livelihood if it’s full,” said Selectman Ryan Donahue, who attended the committee meeting.
“I would like to see us alleviate the congestion in that parking lot … What I would like to know, ultimately, who is using that lot. I find it surprising that it’s that full.”
Selectmen discussed the 24-hour spots in the Upper Town Dock lot and whether they were part of the problem.
“Working together to solve the parking issue is how I’d like to go about this,” said VanDongen.
He also said it would be short-sighted to claim that the town doesn’t benefit economically from the ferry and those who use it.
“My recommendation would be not to make a decision on that this evening,” said Chair Lydia Goetze. “We’re not going to make a change this season anyway.”