SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Town officials are doing what they can to address parking issues, an hour at a time.
At last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting, selectmen reviewed and approved updates to the town’s traffic and parking ordinance, one of which was to eliminate three-hour parking spaces and limit them to two-hour spaces.
The board also discussed upgrades to the former Hook property that could provide a few more parking spaces by the end of the season.
Changes to the ordinance included eliminating several three-hour parking spaces in the Upper Town Dock lot, on Clark Point Road. Some of those spaces were made into eight-hour parking spots with the ordinance change.
“We are trying to encourage more people to park at the Upper Town Dock,” when shopping or dining in town, Police Chief Alan Brown told the Islander. There are fewer than 20 spaces for parking at the Lower Town Dock and about 50 spaces at the Upper Town Dock.
The Upper Town Dock includes many of the three-hour spots that will switch to either two-hour or eight-hour parking.
Despite the time-restricted spaces, the Upper Town Dock lot can get pretty full with the vehicles of working fishermen and members of the Coast Guard, Harbormaster Adam Thurston told the board.
Fishermen with a permit may park in any of the spots for unlimited periods.
“So they are, in effect, not two-hour spaces,” Selectman Lydia Goetze added.
“How many more spaces can we open up if we go talk to the Coast Guard?” Selectman Ryan Donahue asked Thurston during the discussion.
It was not clear how many parking spots the Coast Guard is granted use of in any of the town dock lots.
Beal’s Lobster Pier is located near the Lower Town Dock lot with nine designated spaces for vehicles at their business during the summer. They have chosen to restrict use of some of those spaces this season.
“This year, Beal’s is not letting fishermen park on their property,” Thurston added.
More spaces also may become available at the Manset Town Dock on Shore Road. Initial upgrades planned for this season to the former Hook property, now property of the town, include removal of vegetation and leveling with dirt fill. The changes could provide up to six more spaces, according to Harbor Committee Chair Ann Napier, and are part of a four-phase plan for that property she presented during the meeting.
Changes to the traffic and parking ordinance also included a fee of $5 for long-term (12 hours or more) parking in the Hook property portion of the Manset Town Dock lot.
That lot is often used for staging for launching boats or other operations, Donahue said. He said his own large work equipment was parked there for the meeting. He asked whether such equipment also would be charged for overnight parking.
“If they need to leave it, yes, I’m going to charge them,” Thurston said.
Voters approved purchase of the Hook property, which the town had been leasing for more than two decades, in October 2017. In recent months, the Harbor Committee has been drafting a plan to further develop the property to increase moorings and parking space at the Manset Town Dock.
Napier presented the plan to the Board of Selectmen. It includes a new harbormaster office with restrooms, a second dock, filling in the waterfront 100 feet or more for additional parking, paving the parking lot and designating time-restricted spaces.
“This is ideally what we’d like to see happen,” Napier told the board about the plan, projected for completion by 2022. “This breaks it down into phases to make it more manageable.”
Also in the parking ordinance changes, the board agreed to offer three vendor permits for any day except Sunday for the pull-off by Manset Corner. Three permits are allowed for businesses to vend on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.