Parking task force created

BAR HARBOR — A new Parking Solutions Task Force, charged with making recommendations to implement aspects of the parking plan proposed by consultants earlier this year, was formally created by the Town Council Tuesday.

The task force will be considering fees for town-owned lots and on-street parking, but do not yet plan to recommend the construction of a parking garage.

The group is charged with making a recommendation to the council by the end of the year, Town Manager Cornell Knight said. Under the new bylaws, members will serve three-year terms, except the initial appointments, which will be split between one, two and three-year terms. Their next scheduled meeting is on Tuesday, June 28, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Town Council chambers.

The task force has many of the same members of the informal Backyard Parking Committee that worked on a proposal for a possible parking garage behind the West Street hotel to be jointly owned and operated by hotel company Ocean Properties Ltd. (OPL) and the town.

That group met in late May for the first time since consultants from Bermello, Ajamil and Associates presented the final phase of a multi-year study on parking in the town in March of this year.

The town and OPL split the $128,000 cost of a multi-year, four-phase study, including parking demand research, exploration of options for increasing capacity, and preliminary design and business and financing plan for the proposed garage system.

The open house and community survey conducted in late 2015, and final report presented in March of this year, cost an additional $20,000.

At the group’s organizational meeting May 24, they said they will focus on establishment of a parking program that includes setting up a designated parking fund and creating a fee system for parking in town-owned lots and on-street parking via kiosks and smart meters. They will recommend an associated free permit system for residential area parking and propose any needed ordinance amendments.

“Consideration of a public-private partnership to construct a garage,” facilitator Ron Beard wrote in the minutes, should “only come after appropriate experience and monitoring of the initial elements of the parking program.”

The group acknowledged citizen interest in exploring additional satellite parking and will include a status report of those options. They plan to work with Acadia National Park staff and Bar Harbor Police, to hear about relevant experience and concerns.

The Chamber of Commerce and the HUB of Bar Harbor plan to conduct an education campaign about parking issues.

One of the open seats on the task force is for someone representing “in-town residential areas likely to be affected by the parking program,” and the other is for “an additional business member,” according to the May minutes.

The town is currently taking applications for residents wishing to serve on the task forces on parking solutions, recycling and aging, Knight said.

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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