To the Editor:
After the meeting last week with the parking advisers at the Bar Harbor town office, I thought I would write down some of the things that I heard.
I was impressed by what the parking consultant (Andy Hill) said at the small group in the municipal building auditorium when asked if the proposed garage was the least costly solution. He said that the least costly solution is to provide satellite parking areas and shuttle buses.
This present parking lot study has too narrow of focus on only a solution for one parking lot for one decade’s usefulness. The consultant said that the design of this garage is not large enough to accommodate present parking needs, let alone future needs.
Cruise ship fees could pay for parking related solutions instead of the taxpayers.
Businesses used to have to provide parking if they were located more than 200 feet from a town parking lot. Or they could apply for a parking waiver if they were within 200 feet of a lot. There was going to be a meeting about 20 years ago about all the businesses paying into a fund to provide parking solutions in the future because businesses were benefiting from the customers who were needing the parking.
Some parking structures in other cities (like Portland) have vouchers that people get stamped by the business that you are going to. The business pays for your parking.
We should advertise that the Gateway Center is open for business in newspapers and with signs at the site. Many townspeople think that the center is only used for Island Explorer overnight parking, not a bus stop where riders could get a ride into town. We should provide express buses to and back from the Village Green in Bar Harbor because it now takes too long to come into downtown with multiple stops along the way.
We should extend the Island Explorer’s hours so that late-shift employees could take an express bus back to the Gateway Center.
If fees are needed, try a nominal fee of 25 cents.
We should expand the parking study to see if the present 72-hour parking available on most of West Street, and all of the residential streets, is being used by employees or tourists.
More parking time enforcement requires more parking enforcement personnel including their wages and benefits. It would be better to use funds to buy more buses and pay drivers instead of enforcement.
If the cruise ship terminal comes to pass, it would be good to have easy access and egress for buses with merge lanes into and out of the facility. Queue waiting buses at satellite parking areas and call them in as needed. They could have a policeman directing traffic and suggest other routes in Hulls Cove to reach downtown Bar Harbor.
Always let fishermen have easy access and parking at the Bar Harbor Town Pier.
On ship days, we should have parts of Main and Cottage streets become a pedestrian mall.
Have buses queue up all the way around the Village Green and parts of some streets when not in a satellite parking lot or at the ship terminal.
Let’s have more meetings soon before the ferry terminal gets renovated (including talking about parking and bus flow planning. Invite interested citizens, the Town Council, Parking Committee, Island Explorer officials, town planning officials, Whale Watch and Ocean Properties representatives, etc., so that we can work together to move forward.
Eddie and Anne Damm