Editorial: Looking for a sign

In Southwest Harbor, the Manset dock and adjacent gravel parking lot known as the Hook property are a collection point for many people going many different directions: lobstermen, mooring holders and their guests, visitors and workers heading to the Cranberry Isles and customers at the newly-reopened restaurant across the street.

The town’s selectmen have been talking about adding signs to explain the parking rules and options as they stand now, even though changes are being discussed. It’s a good idea. At the moment there are not enough signs explaining the rules. Visitors may be confused when they see the payment slot next to the door of the harbormaster’s office and wonder if they’re supposed to be paying for their spot.

According to the town’s traffic ordinance, the paved parking area has an 8-hour limit. Overnight parking is allowed in the gravel lot by permit only. Permits fees listed in the ordinance are $5/night for visitors, $30/year for resident fishermen and mooring owners and $60/year for nonresident fishermen and mooring owners. No other restrictions or fees are mentioned.

Last winter the ordinance was changed to create more 8-hour spots at the Upper Town Dock, in hopes of encouraging more use of that lot. The website for the Cranberry Cove ferry clearly directs passengers using the ferry to visit the Cranberry Isles to park at the Southwest Harbor Upper Town Dock. The website includes photos and even a video to help passengers find their way there. Passengers do need to arrive a little earlier, since the ferry leaves the Upper Town Dock 15 minutes before it leaves Manset, but the ferry company is certainly doing its part to encourage that option.

Town officials in Southwest and the Cranberry Isles are discussing the best way to manage parking for contractors traveling to the Cranberries from Southwest Harbor. The town of Cranberry Isles owns a parking lot with 128 spaces in Manset, but most of these are reserved for the season. A few are available to be rented by the day.

The Cranberry selectmen are discussing whether to designate some spaces in another of the town’s Manset parking areas specifically for contractors. But under the current rules, as long as visitors or contractors are parking in the Hook lot for less than eight hours, they’re within their rights. Southwest Harbor’s leaders will have to decide whether they want to change those rules. And meanwhile, some more signs wouldn’t hurt.

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