Cumberland to discuss parking near orchard, problem intersection

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CUMBERLAND — The town will hold neighborhood meetings next week on parking changes along Orchard Road, and the elimination of a stop sign at the intersection of Blanchard and Skillin Road.

The Orchard Road meeting, regarding parking at the Orchard Hill Apple Orchard, will take place at Town Hall at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 26. Cars line the road during the operation’s peak weeks, and inadequate road shoulders force drivers to park those vehicles partially in the road.

As a result, traffic is essentially reduced to one lane, with customers must walking in the road to reach the orchard.

The town worked with orchard owner Bob Pierce a few years ago to expand shoulders for about 200 feet, “but the orchard now has become so popular that it’s created a parking issue for probably about 600-700 feet along the road,” Town Manager Bill Shane said Jan. 15.

The town and Pierce plan to work together to widen more of the shoulder on the orchard side of the road, Shane said. Underdrain piping is also to be added, with gravel on top.

Pierce would do the labor and use his equipment, and the town will provide the materials, Shane said. The work would be in the town’s Public Works budget and likely take place this summer.

While shoulders would be improved on both sides of the street, parking would be banned for 900 feet on a curve along Orchard Road near Apple Blossom Way, to mitigate sight distance issues. The road is straight as it passes the orchard.

Stop the stop sign?

The Skillin and Blanchard roads meeting will be held at Town Hall at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28.

The T intersection currently has two stop signs – one for traffic heading southeast on Blanchard Road, and one for motorists driving northeast on Skillin Road.

“If you’re coming (up Blanchard) from Main Street, you’ll approach Skillin Road and you’ll have a free left-hand turn onto Skillin,” Shane explained. “If you’re coming (down Blanchard) from Orchard Road, you have a stop sign.”

The town is considering removing that stop sign, an action recommended by the Gorrill Palmer engineering firm, which conducted a study of the intersection.

A T intersection would typically have three stop signs, or just one, Shane noted, adding, that “two is a bit of an oddity.”

He has heard concerns from neighbors about vehicle speeds, and the impact on a nearby day care.

“It’ll be interesting who shows up” at next week’s meeting, Shane said. “The more people that come to the meeting to give their opinion, I think it’ll be a huge help for the council.”

Removal of the sign would require a Town Council vote, which would come after another public hearing, he said.

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

Whether to remove stop signs on Blanchard Road, at its intersection with Skillin Road, is the focus of a Jan. 28 neighborhood meeting in Cumberland.

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.