Parking group expands focus

BAR HARBOR — After voters rejected a proposal to install parking meters in the downtown area, the group that developed that plan is set to begin addressing a broader range of issues and possible solutions.

The Town Council moved earlier this month to expand the charge of the Parking Solutions Task Force.

“As written, the bylaws were so narrow that it worried some people that we were still trying to build a garage,” said Matt Hochman, council representative to the task force.

“We’re here to get your direction,” task force facilitator Ron Beard told the council, “and to clarify that this is your project and we’re doing the work of the council.”

The task force is currently at work studying demand for seasonal employee parking and what would be needed to expand bus service. They also are planning a future public workshop to gather feedback.

Formed in June 2016, the task force was originally charged with implementing recommendations from a study by consultants Desman Associates and Bermello, Ajamil and Partners that included a public-private partnership for a large parking garage behind the West Street Hotel. Since then, town voters rejected a zoning change allowing such a garage in that district.

“Even though the task force had not been considering a garage, some members of the public thought we were,” Beard said.

The new bylaws instruct the task force to make recommendations to the council “to improve parking in the Bar Harbor downtown area.” Reference to a parking garage was deleted. The bylaws also say the group will work with the Police Department on enforcement issues and the Parking and Traffic Committee on any permit system, and “make recommendations on the use of the parking fund revenues, such as for streetscape plans.”

In June, voters also rejected zoning for parking garages in the Downtown Village I and II districts and for the Marine Research district in Salisbury Cove, which includes the MDI Biological Laboratory. Changes in the zone where The Jackson Laboratory is located were approved. Changes adding parking lots, parking decks and parking garages in several other districts were approved.

Task force members include Hochman, Heather Sorokin, Ron Greenberg, Jane Holland, Erin Early Ward, Mary Booher, Martha Searchfield, Liz Kase, Dick Cough, Sherry Rasmussen and Eben Salvatore.

Beard is the facilitator for the group.

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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