BAR HARBOR, Maine – An initial meeting to hear hope and concerns from residents and business owners in Bar Harbor about a potential public-private partnership to improve parking facilities in the vicinity of the “back yard” parking lot, owned by the Town of Bar Harbor will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. May 29, in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.
The meeting is part of a process to explore the possibilities of a partnership between the Town of Bar Harbor and Ocean Properties, Inc., owners of the West Street Hotel, currently under construction. Members of a stakeholder “working group” chaired by Town Council Chair Ruth Eveland will listen to public comments in advance of further exploration of the possible partnership and design of parking facilities intended to benefit both the town and Ocean Properties.
Ron Beard, of University of Maine Cooperative Extension will facilitate meetings of the working group. Through interviews with a number of abutters and stakeholders over the last month, Mr. Beard has identified initial concerns that will need to be addressed in any proposed “solutions”:
• continued or improved access to those businesses and property owners with land adjacent to existing town ways at Lenox Place and Laurel Court;
• improvements in the quality and quantity of public parking spaces in the vicinity (the town currently has some 50 plus spaces in the “back yard” parking lot);
• advancement of the Town’s long term interests in what-ever partnership might be created to construct and operate a parking facility.
For their part, Ocean Properties hopes to create dedicated parking spaces for use by visitors staying at the West Street Hotel, thereby freeing up other land owned by Ocean Properties for other uses.
Mr. Beard has stated that the efforts of the “working group” and any recommendations it may arrive at would not be a substitution for any necessary reviews of Ocean Properties’ plans for West Street Hotel or other projects, but the hope is that the process will allow the developer to understand or anticipate, and therefore respond to, any concerns that are normally discussed during planning board or other reviews.
Beard hopes the recent example of involving stakeholders in an advisory capacity will allow progress even when there is not initial trust among the parties. He points to the decision by Maine Department of Transportation to use a similar process for a redesign of Route 3, from Ireson Hill to Mount Desert Street, slated for reconstruction in 2015-2016.
Ms. Eveland points out that the working group is advisory in nature, with any recommendations going to the town council, and should any conveyance or purchase of property be considered, those actions would be subject to approval by the voters.
Ms. Eveland has invited the following people to serve on the working group: Chris Fogg, Rick Leiser, Jack Coopersmith, Jill Weber, Sherri Rasmussen, Greg Veilleaux, Jill Goldthwait, Kim Swan, John Reeves, Dick Cough, Dana Reed, Eben Salvator and Bill Walsh. The working group will hold its initial meeting on the morning of May 29, from 7:30 to 9 AM in the Council Chambers.
All meetings of the working group will be publicized in advance and open to the public.
Members wishing to be added to an email list for notices of future meetings may contact the Cooperative Extension Office at 207-667 8212.