To the Editor:
We write as members of the Bar Harbor Parking Solutions Task Force in support of the proposed seasonal parking plan designed at the request of the Town Council.
That plan would free up parking in the commercial center of Bar Harbor for customers and visitors while allocating low-cost and no-cost parking on adjacent streets to employees and residents. The plan is the result of months of work following a decision to abandon the idea of a parking garage on town-owned land.
After expenses for equipment and personnel, the plan would generate a steady income of more than $500,000 a year to the town. Those funds could be used to pay for development of additional satellite parking lots and shuttle services, bike and pedestrian amenities, and other ways to make our streets and sidewalks better for residents, employees and visitors.
The task force is the third town-initiated effort to work on parking issues since 1998. We have taken the best of recommendations from earlier studies, along with parking data and trends generated over three recent seasons, showing that on any given day in the high season and at peak times, there are as many as 100 cars circling the downtown area in search of parking.
Rather than using taxpayer funds to build additional parking, we propose smart meters (one of every two spaces) along the main commercial streets and kiosks in our 10 public parking lots. At the same time, the plan encourages employees and residents who do not wish to pay for parking by the hour to use adjacent streets, where parking will be designated as permit parking only. Seasonal permits for nonresident employees will have a nominal charge. Permits for residents will be free.
Our town and our economy have grown more complex over the years, adjusting to greater numbers of visitors. This proposal, while not perfect, is an attempt to create an active mechanism for visitors to contribute to future parking and congestion solutions. If the voters allow the town to issue a bond for the purchase of meters and kiosks at the upcoming town meeting on June 6, we would look for implementation of the seasonal parking program in 2018.
The task force will monitor all aspects of the program, ready to make improvements based on experience.
Please attend an informational forum on the proposed seasonal parking program at the Jesup Memorial Library on Tuesday, May 23, at 6 p.m.
Go to the town of Bar Harbor website to review frequently asked questions and our full report and recommendations.
President, Village Improvement Association
Innkeeper, Aysgarth Station B&B