Parking meters in Bar Harbor are back in the public eye, with an open house last week hosted by the town task force and a presentation to the Town Council set for later this month. The task force’s initial proposal for seasonal parking meters and parking permits was very narrowly rejected by voters in June. Residents on both sides of the issue suspect that the voters who left the meeting before the final vote would have swayed the result to their preferred outcome.
Sent back to the drawing board after the vote, the task force added employee parking areas, satellite parking options and education campaigns to encourage biking and walking.
Some of the perennial concerns about the plan deserve careful consideration and perhaps even carve-outs. Elderly or handicapped residents, for example, should not be asked to walk from distant side streets to do their errands. But the status quo is untenable for this group, as for many others.
The Town Council has been focused for years now on ways to raise revenue to keep up with growing expenses without raising taxes. But with any new revenue plan, such as the proposed parking fund, some fear the revenue will be channeled into “pet projects,” never to materialize as tax decreases or slower tax increases.
Ironically, one of those pet projects is a Cottage Street streetscape that would eliminate some curb cuts, make parking space sizes more regular and increase pedestrian safety.
Many hours already have been invested by task force members and residents attending meetings, hearings and information sessions over the last 12 months. Let us hope that this next go-round will bring new information and fresh arguments to this long-vexing issue.