SOUTH PORTLAND — Dozens of residents and business owners debated the merits of angled versus parallel parking and one-way versus two-way traffic for nearly two hours Monday night during a City Council workshop.
Shop owners want to keep their angled, drive-in parking spaces along Ocean Street in Knightville no matter what. Residents, for the most part, said they fear a one-way street will divert traffic to residential side streets. They oppose a plan put forward by the city to keep the angled spots by making two blocks of Ocean Street one-way.
The debate stems from a $2.9 million sewer separation, utility upgrade and sidewalk widening project along much of Ocean Street. The plan requires a change in the parking configuration north of the Legion Square roundabout.
Two plans are on the table: The first is the city’s original proposal to remove the angled, drive-in parking spaces and replace them with parallel parking on both sides of the street. That would have reduced the number of parking spaces on the two blocks above E Street from 19 to 15.
After business owners complained about the plan, the city came up with the one-way compromise, which allowed for 12 angled spaces on the west side of the street and six parallel spots on the east side.
“We heard a lot of concerns about the type of parking, and I think this second proposal addresses that,” Mayor Patti Smith said. But “it’s a double-edged sword because now there’s a one-way street that not likeable to some.”
Many residents said they thought the solution would be to change nothing.
“The traffic flow in Knightville, the way it works right now, is great,” said Caroline Hendry, an E Street resident and member of the Planning Board. “I don’t think we should mess around with it.”
But City Manager Jim Gailey and Sebago Technics engineer Dan Riley said doing nothing isn’t an option, because state standards for angled parking require a wider angle than the spots on Ocean Street. After necessary sidewalk widening, two-way traffic will be impossible if angled spots are kept.
“You can’t meet the current standard unless you make it a one-way,” Riley said. “There’s simply not enough road.”
Councilors were undecided about whether to go with the original, two-way, parallel parking only plan or the compromise, one-way, angled plan.
Councilor Al Livingston said the angled parking is necessary to avoid pushing spots hundreds of feet away from where they are now. He said a solution could involve prohibiting left turns from Ocean Street to A Street and B Street, thus alleviating concerns for increased traffic on the residential side streets.
Councilor Tom Coward supported the one-way compromise, saying “this satisfies the most needs with the least detriment, and satisfies state standards and the traffic engineers who’ve been looking at this.”
Councilor Rosemarie De Angelis supported the original, parallel parking plan created by Sebago Technics.
“We can all Monday-morning quarterback and come up with the ways we think this would best serve us, but when all is said and done, we have professionals and engineers who know much more about this than we do,” she said.
Decisions about parking can be made late in the project. Either plan can be implemented by paint alone, so the city may have more time to hash out a plan.
“We’re not going to strike a perfect balance for everyone,” Smith said.
Cars owned by customers and employees of Knightville businesses park in the angled spots along Ocean Street last month.
SOUTH PORTLAND — At Monday’s council workshop, City Manager Jim Gailey presented his Capital Improvement Project budget for fiscal 2013.
The municipal wish-list totals nearly $16.7 million. Items on the CIP budget must exceed $10,000 in value. Aside from property and equipment, CIP projects can also include spending that contributes to the “physical betterment or improvement” of municipal property, Gailey said.
The five most expensive items are:
• $10 million for a new public works garage.
• $1.7 million for sewer separation in Knightville, funded by tax increment financing, or TIF, reserves.
• $1.4 million for Knightville streets, sidewalks and utility infrastructure, funded in part by state and federal grants.
• $715,000 for the renovation or replacement of the municipal bus garage, funded in part by state and federal grants.
• $500,000 for the city’s street paving program, funded by undesignated surplus and CIP reserve surplus.
Fiscal year 2013’s CIP budget is part of a long-term, seven year plan to spend more than $48.8 million on capital improvement projects.
About 80 percent of the proposed CIP budget would be spent on public works and transportation projects. The smallest piece of the pie, about 1.5 percent of the budget, would be dedicated to parks and open spaces.
The CIP budget is part of the total budget package that must ultimately be approved by the City Council this spring.
— Mario Moretto