BRUNSWICK — Police and town officials have waited nearly a month for motorists to park properly at Maine Street Station.
Now they’re going to do something about it.
Since Nov. 6, police have been handing out warnings and instructions on how to park in the 34 reverse-diagonal spaces along Station Avenue, a newly constructed town way servicing the $23.5 million Maine Street Station development. Beginning Dec. 6, the warnings and gentle reminders will be replaced with $10 parking tickets.
“It hasn’t gone that well so far,” police Cmdr. Marc Hagan said, referring to the reverse parking that was originally conceived to create more spaces in the development and to make it more pedestrian friendly.
“We’ve been giving out warnings and putting brochures on people’s windows, but it’s been 30 days,” Hagan added. “We’ll start summonsing violators (Dec. 6).”
Hagan said the warnings had yet to generate any public questions or feedback.
“I’m sure we’ll get some feedback once we start ticketing,” he said.
Town officials anticipated an adjustment period for the unique parking method, which requires drivers to pull forward before backing into parking spaces. Although the method is used in other communities around the country, it’s new to Brunswick and most of the state. Unlike the forward diagonal parking along Maine Street, the new parking applies only to the 34 spaces in the Maine Street Station development, a factor Hagan said could be contributing to the steeper learning curve.
“People just aren’t used to it,” he said.
Hagan said the illegal parking that’s occurring now is dangerous because motorists end up backing across two lanes of traffic to leave the spaces.
In addition to the 34 reverse spaces, Maine Street Station has 95 off-street parking spaces and 13 parallel spaces on Station Avenue.
Besides the brochures that have been distributed, the reverse parking area has instructional signs in each direction.
Despite the efforts to raise awareness, the town is bracing against potential public backlash to the ticketing.
Public Works Director John Foster said Monday that the parking is not only safer than forward diagonal parking, but it is consistent with the goal to make Station Avenue more friendly to pedestrians and bicycle riders.
“We want this street to be for pedestrians first and vehicles second,” Foster said in an e-mail, adding that forward diagonal parking would have required a wider street.
Foster also supplied a collision diagram showing 37 accidents involving “unsafe backing” on Maine Street over a three-year period.
“Head-in parking is not a safe parking method,” Foster said.
Hagan was uncertain how many motorists have been parking illegally at Maine Street Station. He said the town wanted to meet the problem early before the development gets busier.
“It could become a real safety issue once business picks up,” Hagan said.
Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or firstname.lastname@example.org