Making paid parking palatable

To the Editor:

The parking solutions task force proposes “Walk, Bike & Bus” in addition to seasonal paid parking on major streets and lots in the downtown.

I have served on the task force for six years, and previously chaired the town’s Parking and Traffic Committee.

A paid parking program is a big change for Bar Harbor, and the task force worked hard to make it palatable for residents during the five months of enforcement by offering incentives, or what Paul Murphy, general manager of Downeast Transportation, referred to in a letter last week as “spin.”

The task force studied best practices from other towns with paid parking to create our own unique plan.

Newburyport, for instance, charges $25 for a 2018 residential parking permit but with our plan they will be, yes, free.

The reward from paid parking for those of us who live here is the yearly $500,000-plus income stream that will give us the funds for long overdue infrastructure improvements.

When citizens voted against parking garages in the busy downtown and asked for satellite parking options, the task force continued to work. Hopefully, there will be satellite parking at the ferry terminal property, taking advantage of the new 10-foot wide multiuse bike and pedestrian path currently being constructed along Route 3 to the downtown.

Unfortunately, with our current, obsolete parking system, people move cars up a spot or rub chalk off tires in violation of parking time limits. Visitors see “2 hr parking” painted on our streets and ask where to pay, since they pay for parking in other popular resort towns.

The one privately owned paid parking lot in the downtown is often full at $3 or more per hour.

Experts warn us to prepare for an increase in cars wanting parking. If we can charge those drivers for parking, many will decide to walk, bike and bus. The parking bond will be paid off in two years with fees generated by seasonal paid parking. Then we will have funds through the years to put towards a renovated ferry terminal, a long overdue Cottage Street upgrade, additional bus service or other amenities.

Sherry Rasmussen

Bar Harbor

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