BAR HARBOR — The regularly-scheduled ban on overnight parking on public streets will continue for now, the town council decided last month.
Councilor Matt Hochman added the issue to the agenda of the Nov. 27 meeting after Ledgelawn resident Alice Clair had contacted him asking the council to consider changing the parking ban.
Between Nov. 15 to April 15, no parking is permitted on any public street or any municipal parking lot between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.
Clair wrote in an email that the current parking ban “is a great burden to those of us who do not have private off-street parking, and as we all know there are many people in the in-town area who do not.”
She asked if Bar Harbor could have parking bans on an as-needed basis. “With the advantage of social media and weather forecasting … it would be reasonably easy to institute a ban only when there was a snow or ice event predicted,” she wrote.
Public Works Director Chip Reeves defended the current parking ban in a memo, saying it allows snow removal crews to have full access to town roads in times of minimal traffic. Reeves also wrote that the ban on overnight parking in town lots “has not been strictly enforced,” and suggested “making appropriate changes to the parking ordinance to reflect how it is being administered.”
Fire Chief Matt Bartlett also weighed in a memo, saying the parking ban is important for public safety.
“If cars are allowed to park on the streets,” he wrote, “it will affect fire department response. With the snow banks on the side of the roads, cars will be pushed further into the street. The vehicles blocking the travel lanes could delay fire apparatus and ambulance responses.”
There’s also a financial consideration, Town Manager Cornel Knight said: “police write about 125 tickets per year for the ban,” he wrote in a memo. That’s a substantial fraction of the roughly $30,000 of revenue the town receives in parking fines annually.
Clair was not present at the Nov. 27 meeting, but resident Martha Searchfield spoke when the floor was opened to public comment. “No one wants an immediate change,” she said. “We should start to think about it.”
“Based on the memos we’ve gotten,” Councilor Paul Paradis said, “my thinking would be to leave it as-is for now.”
The council voted unanimously to “keep the winter parking ban in place for now, as recommended by staff.”