Widening the sidewalk on the west side of Main Street in Northeast Harbor is part of the draft village center improvement plan, but the idea of eliminating diagonal parking has been abandoned. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Parking flip off the table

MOUNT DESERT — Never mind.

Popular sentiment has shot down a proposal to eliminate diagonal parking on the west side of Main Street in Northeast Harbor and replace it with parallel parking on both sides.

“It seems there were a lot of people who were concerned it would be much more difficult to parallel park along Main Street,” said Jackie Hewitt, the town’s economic development consultant.

The proposed parking change was part of a preliminary streetscape plan for making downtown Northeast Harbor livelier and more inviting. The plan was developed by Richardson & Associates, a landscape architecture firm in Saco, which was selected for the project by the town’s Village Center Plan Committee.

The committee presented the plan at a public workshop July 13. Hewitt said a number of people there and in subsequent conversations with committee members expressed opposition to the parallel parking idea.

“So, we decided to listen to what the community was saying and stay with diagonal parking,” she said. “There are so many other things in the plan that are so interesting and exciting, and [the committee] didn’t want people to vote it down just because of the parking.”

Hewitt said the revised plan still allows for construction of a sidewalk on the east side of Main Street and widening of the sidewalk on the west side, where most of the shops are. That sidewalk, which is now between five and six feet wide, could become as wide as 10 feet in some places.

“The biggest thing that people were interested in was getting a wider sidewalk,” Hewitt said.

She told members of the Summer Residents Association (SRA) at their Aug. 24 meeting that another public workshop on the village center plan will be held Sept. 15, where the revised draft plan will be presented and additional feedback will be invited. Then the final plan is to be presented to the Board of Selectmen, probably in October.

The landscape firm that recommended switching from diagonal parking on one side of Main Street to parallel parking on both sides had estimated the change would result in a net gain of eight parking spaces.

Larry Goldfarb, a member of the SRA board, said he regretted that so much time has been spent talking about parking, particularly the idea of parallel parking. He said that since he arrived in Northeast Harbor for the summer in late June, he has driven to the village center nearly every day.

“Not once have I not been able to find a parking space,” he said.

Apparently alluding to what many see as the need to attract more people to the downtown area, Goldfarb added, “I think the problem isn’t that there’s not enough parking. The problem is there is no parking problem.”

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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