Parking and traffic congestion over the busy Memorial Day weekend on Mount Desert Island were clear illustrations that the current management scheme is not working. Both Acadia National Park and the town of Bar Harbor for years have been planning to address this congestion. Both have proposals on the table, and both deserve support.
In Bar Harbor, the proposed parking program includes paid parking in some public lots and on some streets during peak season. The idea continues to be tough to swallow, as many residents have bristled at paying to park on roads and in lots when they already pay taxes for them.
Although a major change, paying to access parking in the commercial center is better than no access at all.
Currently, visitors have little incentive to walk or ride into town from Eden Street hotels or campgrounds. Circling vehicles looking for spots increase the likelihood of accidents and pollute the air. The visitors in those cars also find their vacation enjoyment drop precipitously.
Economists say if you want less of something, tax it. The proposed parking fees are just that — an attempt to “shift the current patterns” of how parking is utilized here, according to a parking task force report.
Like Acadia’s proposed reservation system, the town parking program is intended to reduce uncertainty and chance and to help people know what to expect.
In this analysis, revenue from parking fees is a secondary benefit. But that revenue is expected to pay off the initial bond in two years and support vastly improved parking enforcement. Parking revenue also could support operation of the ferry terminal, satellite parking locations and streetscape improvements.
We urge a “yes” vote on the parking program bond issue at town meeting elections on June 12.