MOUNT DESERT — Some places in Mount Desert are so popular this time of year that parking on nearby streets and roads has become a problem.
The Board of Selectmen at their July 15 meeting responded to residents’ complaints and the recommendations of Police Chief Jim Willis by restricting parking in three areas.
Steamboat Wharf Road in Seal Harbor is one of those places. Because the parking lot for Seal Harbor beach is quite small, vehicles spill over onto Main Street and Steamboat Wharf Road.
“We’re not complaining about the chaos of summer; that’s just one of the gifts we have from living in a lovely spot,” Steamboat Wharf Road resident Dennis Shubert told the selectmen. “The issue is that that segment of Steamboat Wharf Road becomes very unsafe.”
Fire Chief Mike Bender agreed, saying parking on even one side of the road makes it difficult for fire trucks to get through.
“There have been times when I doubt we would have been able to get a truck down to the dock to access the dry hydrant there for a water supply,” he said.
Willis said, “We’ve tried to manage it with temporary ‘no parking’ signs … on one side of the road. We’ve used our limited authority to manage it for a couple of years.”
He said he would like the town to revisit the parking ordinance later in the year to address problems in Seal Harbor and other areas. In the meantime, he asked the selectmen to “give us the authority to get through the rest of this season … to get us through what I’m thinking to be a crisis.”
The board voted to authorize Willis to prohibit parking on Steamboat Wharf Road “as he sees fit,” until a thorough review of the parking ordinance can be undertaken.
The board also voted to limit parking to only one side of Whitney Farm Road near the intersection with Pretty Marsh Road.
“I’ve had some complaints over the last few years about near accidents,” Willis said.
He said parking on Whitney Farm Road is “overflow from people using Pond’s End.”
Gilpatrick Lane in Northeast Harbor is occasionally jammed with cars parked on both sides when there is an event at the nearby Mount Desert Elementary School or the Northeast Harbor Library, Willis said.
“We have temporary signs on Gilpatrick right now to keep people on one side,” he said. “I think everybody is okay with that. But I wanted to get some permanent signs up, and then we can clean it up in the ordinance rewrite.”
The selectmen authorized the placement of permanent no parking signs on the east side of Gilpatrick Lane.
In separate action, the selectmen agreed with Willis that parking restrictions should be loosened on Huntington Road in Northeast Harbor by allowing parking on one side of the road. Many of the cars that have parked there in the past were overflow from Clifton Dock.
“Last summer we put up [no parking] signs on both sides of the road,” Willis said. “I’ve already gotten complaints from people coming back who like to go out on their boat and saying they need to have a place to park. So, I thought maybe we could just limit it to one side of the road.”