BRUNSWICK — Town councilors on Tuesday night voted against lifting an overnight parking ban on Longfellow Avenue from Harpswell Road to Coffin Street.
The ordinance to regulate parking in the area was created in 2000 after complaints about overnight parking. It forbids street parking between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
Earlier this year, complaints about enforcement spurred Councilor Benet Pols to suggest lifting the ban. Originally, councilors considered removing the ban along the entire length of Longfellow, but trimmed it to an area of upper Longfellow where there are rarely parking issues.
Longfellow Avenue resident Margaret Issacson said she and her husband, residents of the street since 1976, “strongly endorse” lifting the parking ban. She said often her children’s friends gather at their house and sometimes park on the street overnight. She said there have not been problems with Bowdoin students parking overnight in the area, or “warehousing” cars on the street.
“Students tend not to walk farther than they have to,” Issacson said.
Several other residents also supported lifting the parking ban, and others spoke in favor of keeping the ban in place to prevent problems.
Resident Jill Pearlman said she spent time counting empty parking spaces in a college lot to determine the need for street parking. Her survey showed a minimum of 18 empty parking spaces all they way up to a maximum of 27 open spaces one Sunday night.
“If you live in a college neighborhood, you are bound to run into students,” Pearlman said. “I know Bowdoin students, they are nice. If you ask them to, they will move their cars.”
Resident Connie Lundquist said the ordinance was created for a reason and said it should not be changed.
“Why fix something that isn’t broken?” she asked, adding she called many neighbors – excluding the Issacsons – and they all said they had no need for street parking, even the neighbors in favor of lifting the parking ban.
Bowdoin Student Government President John Connolly said first-year students are not allowed to have cars on campus, but those who bring cars anyway would be more likely to park on South Street because it’s closer to campus than Longfellow.
“I would not see there would be a problem with students,” Connolly said.
Councilor Ben Tucker asked Brunswick Police Cmdr. Marc Hagan if additional work has been created related to parking enforcement in the area. Hagan said it does not “affect how we do business as a police department.” He said his concern lies with the reason the ordinance was created in 2000.
Other streets where no overnight parking is allowed are Potter and South streets, Hagan said.
Because the parking ban was created by ordinance, there is no temporary measure or trial period that can be created, Town Manager Gary Brown said, adding there could potentially be a “sunset clause” or automatic expiration date created if the town attorney approves.
Councilor Suzan Wilson suggested residents on upper Longfellow Avenue contact police if they plan to have company park on the street overnight, employing the police department’s “discretionary authority” to not issue tickets.
After voting to keep the ban in place, councilors tentatively agreed to revisit the issue in about a year.
Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.