Bath council OKs High Street traffic change, mulls events policy

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BATH — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the conversion of a section of High Street in front of the Winnegance General Store to one-way traffic.

The panel also expressed support for an event policy, which will be discussed again in a future workshop.

The council voted a second and final time on the High Street proposal, which it unanimously supported in a first reading on Dec. 17, 2014. City staff worked with the Parking and Transportation Committee, store owners and neighbors to address parking demands created by the store’s opening last year, according to a city memo.

The change is the result of greater-than-anticipated parking demand, which has created conflicts with an adjacent day-care provider and other neighbors.

The preliminary solution affects one segment of the street, a loop near the Phippsburg border. Traffic will flow southbound, with parking only permitted on the east side of the street.

The proposed permanent solution would widen the segment of High Street by 4-6 feet, allowing two parking lanes and one through-travel lane.

“These tiers of improvement have been recommended by the Parking and Transportation Committee and generally agreed to by the adjacent property owners and concerned citizens as an acceptable solution,” City Planner Andrew Deci, Police Chief Mike Field and Public Works Director Peter Owen wrote in the memo to council Chairwoman Mari Eosco.

“The permanent solution is predicated on developing an acceptable cost-sharing scenario involving the City and adjacent property owners,” the memo added. “Further action from the City Council may be required to implement the final solution – including amendments to the parking ordinance.”

Event policy

Later in the meeting, the panel expressed support for a city event policy.

Field and Steve Balboni, director of Parks and Recreation, noted in a Dec. 31, 2014, memo to the City Council that parades, races and big events have been keeping their departments busy, creating a demand on city resources.

“Currently our process for major events is fairly limited,” the memo states. “It mostly depends on locations. For example, a City Park event contacts the Recreation office and a race event contacts the Police Department. What is missing is other department inputs and needs, as well as a centralized process and policy.”

Advantages would include a centralized process with review of each event by all departments, a fee structure for all departments, liability requirements for events, and organization of resource-and-response needs for the events, according to the memo.

“There’s no aim to further restrict events … but we’re looking for some guidelines,” City Manager Bill Giroux said.

The City Council also presented Andy Winglass with a city chair, honoring his 12 years of service on the panel, which concluded last fall.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.