Handicapped parking spots to be replaced

BAR HARBOR — Two handicapped parking spaces on Cottage Street are set to be restored, following a split 3-2 Town Council vote Tuesday.

The town’s Parking and Traffic Committee recommended not restoring the spaces when the street was resurfaced earlier this year. They cited concerns that the spaces did not meet requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for on-street handicapped parking.

Councilor Matt Hochman moved to grant the request from resident Ann Zoidis to reinstate the two spaces against the committee recommendation.

“Removing (the spaces) brings us into compliance with the letter of the ADA, but I don’t think it puts us in compliance with the spirit,” Hochman said. “I think it’s in our best interest to provide access to people who need access.”

Councilors Gary Friedmann and Anne Greenlee also supported the motion. Paul Paradis and Peter St. Germain dissented. (Councilors Burt Barker and Clark Stivers were absent.)

The spaces were grandfathered noncompliant with ADA before the repaving, Public Works Director Chip Reeves argued, but the project was a significant enough change that it may no longer be grandfathered.

“The second you start to alter a facility, then you have to bring it into compliance,” he said. “The action I took [not replacing the spots] does not mean we don’t want to meet residents’ requests. The reason we have standards is to guide staff decisions.”

Chamber of Commerce Director Martha Searchfield said there have been many questions about why the spaces have disappeared from residents and visitors who have used them for many years.

Zoidis said she has been in touch with the New England ADA Center and learned that the town could apply for waivers to address the noncompliance issues.

Another parking space request, to remove a space on the western side of the intersection of Greeley Avenue and Cottage Street, was denied in a split vote at the meeting.

Councilors Friedmann and Greenlee supported the motion to remove the space. Paradis, St. Germain and Hochman voted against it. They argued that if the 15-feet setback from the intersection specified in a town ordinance is insufficient for a safe line of sight, a broader change should be proposed.

The request came from resident Joshua Ehrlich, who said it’s dangerous to make a left turn onto Cottage from Greeley if a large vehicle is parked in the spot in front of the Salon Naturelles building.

Other Greeley Avenue residents spoke in support. They noted that the large building occupied by the salon has a small setback from the street. Jeff Dobbs suggested restoring parking spaces in front of the Bar Harbor Lobster Company on Main Street.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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