News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 7, 2019
Parking ordinance amended in Castine

Parking discussed

Castine selectmen Peter Vogell (not pictured), Colin Powell and Gordon MacArthur, and Castine Town Manager Shawn Blodgett discuss proposed changes to the parking ordinance with residents at a public hearing on November 4.

Photo by Monique Labbe Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Monique Labbe

Several proposed changes to Castine’s parking ordinance were approved by selectmen following a public hearing on November 4.

The hearing, which was standing room only, lasted about half an hour, during which time the public, members of the board of selectmen and Castine Town Manager Shawn Blodgett discussed hourly parking changes, footage of no parking areas at intersections, parking enforcement and more.

Changes include removing the two-hour parking restriction on the north side of Court Street from Pleasant Street to Dresser Lane, and changing it to no overnight parking, which would allow for more parking options for students at Maine Maritime Academy.

Additionally, the two-hour parking restriction on the west side of the street between Battle Avenue and Court Street coming down Main Street will also be removed, and changed to no overnight parking.

Hourly parking restrictions at the town dock will change from three-hour parking to four, with the exception of year-round one-hour spaces located on the south and east edge of the parking lot, or as posted.

The change that sparked the most discussion was changing the footage of no parking areas at all intersections, from 10 feet to 25 feet. Some members of the public felt that would take away too many parking spots, while others were worried that the change would lead to an increase in signage, which could take away from the aesthetics of the historic district.

“When we did the Main Street project, one of the biggest discussions was about preserving the aesthetics of the historic district,” said Julie Van de Graaf, owner of The Pentagoet Inn. “We don’t want to populate the historic village with traffic signs, so we need to take that into account.”

Blodgett said that signs would be put at intersections that seem to have the most problems, so that there would not have to be signs at every intersection. Some members of the public said that would cause issues for people visiting town who are not familiar with the ordinance, as some intersections would have signs and some would not, even though the ordinance states no parking in all those areas.

Tom Gutow said that in towns he has visited similar to Castine, if a first-time visitor is ticketed for parking, the town will often waive that first ticket, to promote good faith between visitors and the town. It also serves as a way to educate visitors to the parking restrictions in town. The selectmen agreed that was a good idea and that it is already done in Castine.

After more discussion, it was agreed that the no parking at intersections portion of the ordinance would still be changed to 25 feet, but the selectmen added the language “where posted” so that tickets would only be given out where signs were located.

“Don’t throw the old signs away,” said former selectman Gus Basile. “It might get reversed again in another four or five years.”

In other board business, the selectmen approved a request from Witherle Memorial Library to apply for a Maine Public Library Fund Grant and a request from the Castine Historical Society to have Dyce Head Lighthouse open on July 23, 2020, for their house and garden tour.