BAR HARBOR — A plan for parking meters and kiosks in the downtown area, similar to the one shot down by four votes at the June 2017 town meeting, will go to voters in June of this year after being accepted by the Town Council on Tuesday.
Parking Solutions Task Force facilitator Ron Beard presented the proposal to councilors. Key differences in this new proposal are more employee parking areas, investing in campaigns to encourage biking and walking, and a recommendation to use schools or the ferry terminal for satellite parking.
“It’s much more clearly focused on reducing demand for parking by getting people to walk, bike or perhaps use buses,” Beard said.
Councilor Gary Friedmann spoke in support of the parking fund included in the plan. It’s estimated that the cost of the meters will be recovered in two years.
“It’s not about pocketing this money, it’s to give visitors a positive experience,” Friedmann said. “We could use those funds to build parking garages or decks at the ferry terminal.”
Councilor Tom St. Germain clarified that the council’s vote to accept the report means that the council is “moving toward the direction” that the report indicates.
Residents attending a Nov. 30 open house held by the task force were skeptical of the plan. They said they were opposed to having to pay to park in their own town and worried about elderly residents not being able to walk enough to do their errands and safety for pedestrians.
According to the proposal, residents would be given permits that allow them to park on side streets at no charge but could be given a 50 percent discount on meter payments if they wanted to park closer to town. Employees and students also could receive permits.
The previous plan included a $400,000 bond issue, but this proposal includes a $600,000 bond issue for a more expensive metering system. Erin Early Ward added language to the motion requiring that the question be delivered on a written ballot rather than on the town meeting floor.