Tom Crikelair, designer of the Island Explorer bus system. Crikelair was invited to the Parking Solutions Task Force to discuss the possibility that expansion of the bus system could free up parking in Bar Harbor. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

Parking group ponders moves

BAR HARBOR — The town’s Parking Solutions Task Force is regrouping following voters’ rejection of a plan to install parking meters downtown.

The charge to the task force from the Town Council was to recommend a way to implement the recommendations of a 2016 study by consultants Desman Associates and Bermello Ajamil and Partners.

Now the group is suggesting that the council update those bylaws and the assignment to the group, given, among other changes, voters’ rejection of zoning amendments allowing parking garages in the downtown.

When they met June 22, some members thought the group should stand down for a year, facilitator Ron Beard wrote in the meeting minutes. Others recommended seeking another vote on the November ballot.

“Members were generally in favor of continuing work on the overall proposal, recognizing that it should work toward significant buy-in from stakeholders so that a town vote shows clear support for the resulting parking program,” Beard wrote. “Even if the proposal had won by four votes instead of losing by four votes, we would not have a solid foundation for moving forward.”

Resident and Island Explorer bus system designer Tom Crikelair joined the meeting to discuss possible future expansion of bus service in order to free up parking spaces in town. He said it will be important to consult the Acadia National Park transportation plan, expected to be complete by late next year.

The group noted other concerns that were raised during and since the town meeting. These included how much employee parking is needed, what the options for satellite parking might be and whether parking revenue could reduce the property tax burden.

“Providing ‘parking solutions’ to some folks feels like encouraging more and more visitors,” Beard wrote, and some residents feel “the work of the task force should, somehow, be connected to the broader issue of carrying capacity and a consensus ‘vision’ for the town.”

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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