SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Everyone seems to agree that there is a shortage of public parking in town, especially in the downtown business district and along the harbor. Addressing the problem is another matter.
Lydia Goetze, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, proposed the formation of a “working group” on parking Tuesday at the board’s regular meeting. Her plan was met with a lukewarm reception.
Goetze proposed forming an eight-member group that would include two selectmen, two Planning Board members, two Harbor Planning Committee members and two members of the general public.
“I don’t see this as a formal committee,” Goetze said.
This group would discuss parking issues and possible solutions in a brief series of meetings and report back to selectmen. The discussions would be held in closed session and not open to the public, she said.
The closed nature of the meetings was questioned by Selectman Dan Norwood.
“That concerns me … that you’re going to share information that you don’t want public,” Norwood said.
Maine law requires all public proceedings to be open to the public except for deliberation of specific topics under certain conditions. In doing so, the body must vote to enter executive session and state the nature of the discussion and cite the applicable state law.
Selectmen had other objections to the proposal.
“I’m not really interested in exploring it,” George Jellison said.
Jellison explained that there had been a committee in the past that studied the parking problem.
“I think it’s another committee that will come up with the same conclusions,” he said.
Norwood pointed out that Town Manager Don Lagrange and police Chief Alan Brown also have begun an inventory of public parking spaces in the town. And, he added, selectmen, too, are seeking solutions.
“I think we have five committee members who discuss this everyday,” Norwood said. “I think we made great strides on two pieces of property. They haven’t come through, but that’s not for lack of effort.”
Those efforts will continue, Norwood said. “I think this board knows we need more parking, and we’ve been working on it this year.”
Goetze’s proposal was dropped. No motion was made to form the group.