BAR HARBOR — The Criterion Theatre has asked the town to eliminate parking spaces directly in front of the building’s entrance and build a new sidewalk bump-out and crosswalk there.
The request was discussed at a town council meeting last month, and the council asked Public Works Director Chip Reeves to research how much the project would cost before making a decision.
Bump-out crosswalks were proposed in LARK Studio’s Cottage Street Streetscape Design presented to the council in 2017.
The work has not yet been scheduled, so the theater’s leaders are asking for a portion of the project to be done early.
Amy Roeder, the theater’s director, said she would like the bump-out in front of their theater to be built soon, to protect the historic marquis. She said the theater was prepared to enter a cost-share agreement with the town.
For a temporary solution, the fire department donated stanchions to place in front of the theater entrance to prevent parking in front of the marquis.
“We would like to thank the police department for those stanchions,” said Roeder. “They have been very helpful. We have had some very enterprising delivery drivers move them out of the way, however.”
She said when large trucks park close to the building, “That’s when we see damage to the marquis.”
According to Steven Parady, the treasurer of the nonprofit that owns the theater, the marquee was hit by trucks and campers four times in 2018.
“The total damage was $42,000,” Parady wrote in an email to the town, “which still needs to be completed. We have not done the repairs because the man that built the marquee originally (10 years ago) refuses to work on it until we can take protective steps.”
Roeder said she hoped a bump-out crosswalk would “make it easier for our patrons to stay safe, make it easier for the cars to go back and forth on the roadway, and also protect our marquis.”
Councilor Matt Hochman recused himself from the council vote, citing a conflict of interest. He currently rents a portion of the building for his coffee shop, and is under eviction. However, he did speak as a resident during public comment.
“Having been a tenant of that building since 2012, I’ve watched that marquis get hit probably 10 times,” Hochman said, “and it is part of the cultural landscape of Bar Harbor. All it says is ‘RION,’ because the rest of the letters have been sheared right off.”
Hochman said he recommended the council do “anything we can to protect it.”