BAR HARBOR — A report detailing options for construction and operation of a downtown parking garage on Rodick Street was released last week.
Town councilors and members of an appointed stakeholder group are set to meet with the consultants to discuss their findings Oct. 1 at 5 p.m. in council chambers.
All are welcome to attend the meeting, Town Manager Cornell Knight said.
Town officials and Ocean Properties (OP) representatives have been talking about a possible shared parking garage on the site of the “backyard parking lot” behind Walsh’s West Street Hotel for some time, and in the spring of 2013, agreed to share the cost of a feasibility study.
The design of the garage itself was a small part of the work of consultants Bermello Ajamil & Partners and Desman Associates, council Chairman Paul Paradis told the Islander. The report includes detailed financial analysis of a plan to finance the parking garage by charging for parking elsewhere in the downtown with curbside meters, metered lots.
Residents in some neighborhoods would receive free parking permits to park their own vehicles on the street. The permit system would “give the town a mechanism for easily identifying non-authorized users parking in a residential district,” the report says.
“They very carefully lay out the cash flows, and it all shakes out,” Paradis said. “It proves to us that if we adopt that plan, this parking garage can be paid for through fees. That is quite a change for Bar Harbor. It’s not something that we’re used to here. It basically says if you want to solve the town’s parking problem and pay for it without taxpayer dollars, this is what you have to do. So now the question is, do we have the political will to do that?”
The report includes detailed terms of an agreement between Ocean Properties and the town sharing rights and responsibilities for the project. OP would have exclusive use of the first floor (“grade level”) of the garage for their hotel guests, employees, etc. The town would control the upper floors as the public portion of the structure. The financial analysis only includes the town’s portion, the report says, since OP plans to pay for their portion of the project directly.
Under current conditions, the town needs at least 75 spaces to reduce parking pressure, the report says. It is estimated that as development progresses, another 85 spaces would be required. Combining those numbers with the 81 spaces in the current lot that may be displaced led to the initial design target of roughly 250 spaces.
View the report here.