News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 8, 2012
Reasonable people” ask to park close to street

by Sharon Bray

Maine Maritime Academy student Lucas George represented four renters at the November 5 meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

Selectmen Gus Basile (chairman), Peter Vogell and David Unger discussed a letter from George and three others sharing a house at 83 Court St.

The town’s winter parking ban from November to April forbids parking within four feet of pavement. Every year since enactment of the provision in the parking ordinance, selectmen have considered similar requests. Although they have turned down most, selectmen have worked with renters to find alternative arrangements.

Town Clerk Susan Macomber said she receives about one such request each year.

George told selectmen the driveway has room for only two cars with the house owner leaving a car permanently parked at the interior end. Since the four occupants have four cars, they want to park two about a foot from the street along the front yard and sidewalk.

“We are all reasonable people at the house. We understand the need to plow snow, but on nights like tonight, we just want a place to park,” George said.

Finance Officer Karen Motycka said MMA security chief Tom Perkins offered “case by case” commuter parking in the academy’s Stevens Street lot and suggested George call him.

“I appreciate that,” responded George, “but how many of you walk a half mile to your cars?”

Another possibility, suggested Motycka, would be to ask the health clinic nearby across the street for permission to park overnight, being out by 8 a.m. weekdays.

“I’m not up at 8 every morning,” George answered.

Nonetheless, Motycka offered to call the clinic to inquire about parking possibilities. Although they, too, have to plow snow, she said they do not plow the curved section in front.

Town Manager Dale Abernethy said he understands that most students are accustomed to owning cars, using them for travel to classes, jobs, and personal errands.

Basile told George to talk to people at the health center and check with neighbors who are away all winter.

The board agreed to a temporary waiver until its next meeting November 19 with a strict warning that if snow before that date requires plowing, the students will have to move their vehicles.

“If we had a sneaky snow storm, we would call a wrecker and not even knock on the door,” Vogell warned.

“The problem in town is people over-renting their houses,” Vogell added.

Motycka said she would contact Jim Stone, the town’s parking enforcer, about the temporary permission.

In other business, selectmen approved additional names on the ballot clerk list: Tom Comiciotto and Donna Brophy.

On November 14, municipal officials will meet with MMA representatives for the monthly “town-gown” discussion at the academy. The next regular selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for Monday, November 19, at 4 p.m. in Emerson Hall.