Parking garage session planned

BAR HARBOR — Town councilors approved $10,000 Tuesday to hire the consulting firm that recently completed a multi-year study of a parking garage here to conduct an open house to present the plan, conduct a community survey and propose next steps. The proposal from Bermello, Ajamil and Partners included a lump sum compensation of $20,000 for the project, to be paid by the town and hotel company Ocean Properties. The council accepted the contract proposal by a 5-1 vote, with Clark Stivers dissenting.

The open house session is tentatively set for Nov. 9.

“Since parking garages are new to everybody, we talked to the consultant about next steps,” Town Manager Cornell Knight said. “They recommended that we have a public session where you draw out comments from the public.”

The session would include a presentation of the report, including how they arrived at their conclusions and how it might be paid for, Knight said. “They would provide 3D graphics of the scale and location of the garage in the neighborhood in relation to the other buildings. That will give a sense of what it will look like and how well hidden it will be behind the buildings on Main Street.” The consultants also would conduct a survey and work on an implementation plan to present to the council once it’s done.

Councilor Anne Greenlee asked if any more detail was available on the $20,000 budget. “That seems like an awful lot for organizing a single meeting,” she said.

Knight said the bill represents compensation and travel for a number of people from the firm, from Florida and Massachusetts. “They would be coming twice, to do the public session and then to present the implementation plan. They are also going to have some expense doing the 3D graphics.”

Stivers said it sounded from the proposal like the open house would be somewhat one-sided, with more emphasis on presentation and less on hearing from the public. “Since I’ve been on council, probably two-thirds of the comments I have received have been about this project. I suspect people will want to talk about it, and I’m just making sure that they will be able to.”

Councilor Gary Friedmann agreed the price tag seemed high. “But this is going to be very controversial,” he said. “We’ve all gotten lots of pushback about many aspects of this plan. We’ve come this far. We’ve spent this much time and money. We owe it to ourselves to let these guys come up with the best presentation possible. I think if we don’t do this, we know where it’s gonna go. It’s just gonna go down. So we have to do this to give ourselves a shot.”

The same firm conducted a similar meeting presentation about the ferry terminal project a few years ago, which councilors agreed provided valuable insight.

“I think the way this firm presents things is very professional, open, as thorough as it gets,” Councilor Peter St. Germain said. “If there is apprehension about it, I’m sure they’re going to be prepared to answer honestly. People should come and ask questions.”

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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