One week in, life with parking meters and kiosks in Bar Harbor seems manageable. But almost everyone still seems to be confused, especially about permit parking, which is not yet in effect.
The Town Council approved changes to the town’s parking and traffic ordinance in mid-April and adjusted the policy in early May.
Permit parking was going to begin May 15, then it was pushed to May 29. Now it’s expected to be June 12, one week after the permit application system goes live June 5.
The permit application system is still being tested, and sign installations are not complete.
The town has recently explored new avenues for sharing information, sending press releases and making more frequent use of the news feature on the town website and the official town Facebook page. A part-time “engagement coordinator” has been hired and tasked with getting information out and managing the POLCO online polling system. The town’s speed trailer is set up on Eden Street reminding motorists that meters and kiosks are in effect.
Periodically, residents receive notices from the town in the mail about zoning changes or a site plan application in their neighborhood. Those notices are legally required. These parking changes may be an instance where an official letter, while not required, would help calm concern and confusion.
Perhaps residents, at least those on the downtown streets most affected by the permit parking system, should get a letter mailed or delivered from the town laying out their responsibilities under the new system and what they can expect from others parking on their streets with permits.
It also may be worth exploring a direct alert system, which could be used occasionally to notify residents via email or text message about time-sensitive information, such as these changes to relevant dates for permit parking. Many municipalities have such systems. Our public schools already rely on email lists.
Residents, employers, employees and visitors can help the new system succeed by making good faith efforts to comply with the rules. The town can help by keeping changes to those rules to a minimum, and by continuing to share complete, timely information.