SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Neighbors of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound are worried the high amount of traffic and parking around the business are an accident waiting to happen.
A couple of residents of Seawall Road attended the Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday to voice their concerns.
“I sit on my front porch and I have this view of mayhem,” Connie Walsh told the board. “I’ve been very concerned about safety issues. Lately things have just gotten worse and worse.
“Some days I see families walking from near my house, down the road to Charlotte’s, walking down the center of the road. A lot of times the deer are out and people who have never seen a deer before will stop suddenly… My nerves can’t take it anymore. It’s an accident waiting to happen. It’s a liability for this town.”
Police have been called to the area several times in the last couple of weeks to address the parking problems. New Police Chief John Hall attended the meeting on Tuesday, his second day on the job, and said he had visited the area the day before with Interim Police Chief Mike Miller. On one side of the road, police have placed orange traffic cones with signs that say, “No parking, temporary police order.” Lobster pound owner, Charlotte Gill, has placed a few of her own signs as well to keep people from crowding neighbors’ driveways and the entrance into Port Landing Road.
When the Islander visited Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound following the meeting, Gill was out keeping an eye on traffic and explained that was now a position on her staff.
“We have hired a person who watches traffic,” she said. “His job consists of coming out and directing traffic and picking up the balls around the field.”
Gill said there are few places on Mount Desert Island where families can come and enjoy time outside together playing whiffle ball or a life-size game of Connect Four.
“We’re not a bar, we’re a family restaurant,” she added. “The nights when we’re really busy here are when the other businesses in town are closed. This is no more congested here, in fact less so, than a little farther down the road.”
Gill pointed in the southwest direction of Seawall Road toward the Seawall, Wonderland, Ship Harbor and the Bass Harbor Head Light, all major attractions on the quietside of the island for people visiting Acadia National Park.
Newly elected Board of Selectmen Chairman George Jellison also lives in the Seawall Road neighborhood.
“I live up the road and I’ve had neighbors stop by and ask me what we can do,” he said during the meeting. “Those park rangers go through there at 60 or 70 miles per hour. It’s a fatality waiting to happen… If the fire chief was here, he’d say we’ve got a problem.”
When asked about the situation, Gill explained when she opened her business 10 years ago, the code enforcement officer at that time was Don Lagrange and he told her as long as a fire truck could get down the center of the road, she was fine.
“It’s only a couple of months out of the year and only a couple of nights out of the week,” said Gill. “We’re being as thoughtful, mindful and respectful as we can.”
Members of the board voted in favor of a motion made by Selectman Dan Norwood to authorize and request the police chief to do what was necessary to create a safe environment in the area.
“The police are going to pay additional attention to that area,” said Interim Town Manager Dana Reed at the meeting. “We’ll look at our ordinance to see what we can do… We can only work with the authority the town has given us.”