News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 17, 2022
No changes to traffic ordinance planned
Overnight parking ban remains in effect

by David Avery

The select board declined to make any changes to the town’s traffic ordinance on Monday, November 7, during its regular meeting.

The vote took place during the board meeting, which followed a public hearing on the issue. During the hearing, some residents stated a desire to change the November 1 deadline which ends overnight parking on the street in anticipation of winter plowing.

The rationale behind the requests was that finding off-street parking in Castine is sometimes a hardship, and that snow in November was too infrequent to justify banning parking on the street.

Select board member Gordon MacArthur told the 25 people present in person and the five others joining by remote connection that there is a 50 percent chance of a plowable snow event in November, based on 20 years of local weather data.

When Marc Pelletier asked what happens when there is snow in October or May, Town Manger Sean Blodgett responded that the plows go around the cars.

Pelletier asked whether the date of the ban could be later, like December 1.

Board member Peter Vogell made the point that it is too late in the year to change the date. “What do we do with people who have already paid parking tickets?” he said.

Other issues discussed during the hearing included parking near corners and other areas where illegal parking inhibits emergency vehicles.

A Maine Maritime student present in the audience asked if something could be done to ease the parking problems that students were experiencing near the waterfront.

He explained that MMA has limited parking on their waterfront property for faculty and ship’s crew. Students have to find parking elsewhere.

He received a ticket in the public lot when he parked there overnight while serving on watch on the ship.

Vogell and Blodgett both explained that there are several (six or seven) parking spots that the town sets aside for students on watch. They are near the public restrooms.

The student responded that there are up to nine students on watch at a time, meaning that 18 need parking at watch change every four hours.

Vogell said, “The town is bending over backwards” giving seven parking spots.

The hearing adjourned at 4:23 p.m., after which the select board meeting commenced.

Board business

One of the first orders of business was to vote on the information obtained in the public hearing.

After discussion, the board voted 3-0 to leave the traffic ordinance unchanged, though it did remain open to the possibility of amending the ordinance at a more fortuitous time. May 2023 was suggested.

The board would also consider adding signage to dangerous street corners where cars parked too close to corners were causing accidents and visibility problems in addition to inhibiting the passage of emergency vehicles.

In other action, the board approved general fund and water warrants totaling more than $87,000.

They accepted the resignation of Johanna Barrett from the Tree Committee and appointed Mark Morgioni to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Resident Liz Parish requested that the town provide a remote option for all meetings. Much discussion ensued.

Blodgett promised to revise the current policy on remote meetings for the board to consider at a future meeting.

In his report to the board, Blodgett said the final paving on the Perkins-Pleasant drainage improvement should begin this week. He said that some paving on private roads in Hatch Cove subdivision would necessitate those residents parking on the eastern end of Court Street.

Blodgett said that the stolen British Canal sign would be replaced, though he also said that the date of 1779 might not be correct. Perhaps the correct date is 1812 or 1815, he said.

Ann Blodgett, Shawn’s wife, even suggested that some old maps say French Canal.

The new sign should just say “Canal,” some joked.

Due to the anticipated long work day to be put in by town employees, Blodgett requested that the board authorize a compensatory day off. The board agreed to November 23.

In a letter to the board, John Marples of Penobscot was “shocked” by the trash he has found while walking regularly on the beach in Castine. He hoped the board could help.