SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Amid persistent concerns about parking, selectmen on Tuesday discussed a lack of available parking at the Manset Town Dock, specifically the area recently purchased by the town known as the Hook property.
Contractors working on the Cranberry Isles and day-trippers taking the Cranberry Cove Ferry use the lot for free and stay for much of the day, town officials said.
Town Manager Justin VanDongen said he has spoken with Jim Fortune, administrative assistant to the Cranberry Isles selectmen, about the issue.
“I explained to him that this board has an interest in curtailing the amount of day-use traffic that utilizes the Manset/Hook properties to take a trip to Cranberry Isles,” VanDongen said. “He agrees that it’s a problem.”
VanDongen suggested that a sign could be posted at the Manset Town Dock property asking those traveling to Cranberry Isles to call that town office to learn about parking options.
“Or use the Upper Town Dock” on Clark Point Road, said Board of Selectmen Chair Lydia Goetze. “Isn’t that why we have eight-hour parking spaces up there?”
Selectman Ryan Donahue asked if anyone knew why people were choosing the Manset lot instead of the Upper Town Dock lot. A delayed departure time was Selectman Kristin Hutchins’s guess.
“Here’s the real question,” said Donahue. “Do we want to give up spaces that mooring holders may want to utilize to people that are day tripping or contractors that are working out on Cranberry Island for the entire day? That’s our issue here.”
Goetze suggested a permit for mooring holders in order to distinguish them from day-trippers. VanDongen explained that any permits, fees or signs that are more than suggesting options require a change to the traffic and parking ordinance.
“There are a lot of people who use the dock that aren’t necessarily mooring holders or residents,” said VanDongen. “I’m one of them.”
Although the lot is monitored by Harbormaster Adam Thurston, many people who work on the outer islands park before he reports to work.
“I’d say another problem is the multiple vehicles that these construction people park down there,” said Selectman Alan ‘Snap’ Willey. “Maybe they could carpool a little bit and only bring one vehicle.”
There has been use of the parking lot at St. Peter’s Church at the top of Mansell Lane, VanDongen explained.
“At this point, six additional parking spaces is the make or break of that parking lot,” said Donahue. “The ultimate question is this: Cranberry Island should be providing parking for day trippers in their own (lot). If they aren’t, what are we willing to do about it?
“You can’t say you can’t park there if there’s not a sign,” he added.
“We’ve agreed we at least want an information sign,” said Hutchins. “Let’s start there.”
At this time of year, the problem with parking on land and in the water continues to rise to the top of the list of conversations among town officials.
“I think we need to have a bigger discussion on parking as soon as we can,” said Goetze. “There’s a lot of issues.”