Aiming to reduce downtown traffic, Bar Harbor residents have voted to buy a former ferry terminal for $3.5 million and spend $600,000 on a seasonal parking meter system.
Resident voted 1,380-213 in favor of turning the former Bay Ferries Limited site off Route 3 into a multi-use marina and 859-719 in support of the parking plan, according to results from Tuesday’s municipal elections.
Both proposals attack a challenging issue — growing cruise ship and ground-based visitation that floods downtown Bar Harbor during tourist season.
Bar Harbor residents have expressed hope that the marina would reduce crowding in the harbor and downtown, which are about a mile away, while creating more recreational opportunities for residents.
The parking plan, meanwhile, is expected to generate as much as $500,000 annually to pay for infrastructure improvements and improve downtown traffic flow, Town Manager Cornell Knight said.
“It will be another revenue source, generated from visitors, to help offset expenses,” Knight said Wednesday, “and not be charged to the town’s property tax.”
The plan calls for the installation of at least 400 electronic parking meters by May 2019. Fines for violating the new metered parking regulations would be $20 for the first offense, $35 for the second and $50 for the rest during tourist season, from May to October, according to the Parking Solutions Task Force Final Report.
Legal parking will likely cost $1 to $2 per hour, though the fees are not set, Knight said.
The ticket fees are intended to target Bar Harbor visitors. Residents of Bar Harbor and its villages — and downtown business workers — can get parking stickers for “Resident and Employee Only” and “Resident Only” spaces. Resident stickers are free. Employee stickers are $30, the report states.
“Experience elsewhere demonstrates that paid parking, electronic monitoring and ticketing increases turnover and more effectively allocates demand,” according to the report. “Most tourists are accustomed to paying for parking and will appreciate the improved experience.”
The parking tickets would pay back the $600,000 within two years and eventually fund infrastructure improvements. Improvements could include new spaces, sidewalks and streetscapes, LED streetlights, satellite parking, shuttle service and pedestrian and bicycle-friendly projects.
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