Parking garage study presented

BAR HARBOR — A public meeting Oct. 1 between town councilors, the Backyard Parking working group and consultants to discuss a proposed downtown parking garage on Rodick Street and scheme to fund it with paid parking drew about 20 people, Town Manager Cornell Knight said.

At the meeting, representatives from Bermello Ajamil & Partners and Desman Associates presented the final phase of a study that has stretched over several years. The cost of all four phases of the study, split between the town and Ocean Properties, which owns part of the Backyard parking area that is the proposed site of the parking garage, was $128,000.

“There were concerns about how it will change the atmosphere in the downtown, that there’ll be meters and a garage, but certainly no one was arguing that there wasn’t a parking issue,” Knight said. “Certainly this past summer was indicative of a parking crunch.”

Any plan that involves the town borrowing money would need to go to a town meeting vote, Knight said.

There also was talk at the meeting that the project could be done in stages. “Maybe you’d just start with meters,” he said. “The consultant feels that with the meters and regular enforcement that there may be more parking available.”

Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce director Nancy McKechnie was at the meeting to hear about the plan but said that the group does not have a position on it yet.

“I’m new to the table,” she said. She plans to gauge members’ reactions in the coming weeks before asking the chamber’s board to weigh in. Requiring visitors and downtown employees to pay for parking would be a significant change, she said. “There has been no decision made yet. Our responsibility is to support our membership, and if I don’t know how they feel, I can’t do that.”

Residents will have more opportunities to weigh in once the next steps are clearer, Knight said. The consultants are set to suggest a process for a possible implementation of the plan, he said. The issue will come back to Town Council for action soon.

The Backyard Parking Group, appointed in May of 2012, includes former council chairman Ruth Eveland, residents Jill Goldthwait, Greg Veilleux, Sherry Rasmussen, Dick Cough, Rick Leiser, Jill Weber and John Reeves, along with Ocean Properties’ Eben Salvatore, Knight and McKechnie.

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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