South Portland Farmers Market to return to Hinckley Drive
SOUTH PORTLAND — The Farmers Market will return to Hinckley Drive and parking will be banned on sections of streets near Wilkinson Park after council votes Wednesday night.
In a 2 1/2-hour meeting where Councilor Jerry Jalbert presided due to Mayor Tom Blake's absence, councilors also approved a $388,000 action plan for spending on federal Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grants passed on to the city through Cumberland County.
The unanimous approval to again close Hinckley Drive each Thursday from 2-8 p.m. from May 1 to Oct. 31 came with reservations from Councilors Patti Smith, Linda Cohen, Melissa Linscott, Al Livingston and Jalbert.
“I am disappointed with the location. I am disappointed with the process,” Smith said about returning the market to the block between Ocean Street and Cottage Road. To accommodate 3-7 p.m. market hours , the street will be closed from the drive-through entrance for People's United Bank to Ocean Street.
The market received a special permit from the South Portland Planning Board on April 9. Council approval allows it to open next month.
Livingston said he didn't think the market site was given a fair chance last year because of construction work in Knightville, but also said he is worried closing the street will adversely affect businesses, including a nearby branch of Town & Country Credit Union.
Town & Country President David Libby has opposed a second year for the market on Hinckley Drive, but did not attend Wednesday's meeting. The only public comment on the street closure came from Amber Roberge, owner of On the Move Fitness at 161 Ocean St.
“I do think it is the ideal place for people to congregate,” Roberge said.
Cohen said she opposes the location because of its impact on businesses, but voted for a second year because there is little time to find another location this year.
Parking bans on portions of New York Avenue, and Concord and Berwick streets near Wilkinson Park will go into effect in time for the start of the Little League season and last until Aug. 15, as councilors try to alleviate cramped street conditions caused in part by ballgame spectators.
From 4:30-8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, parking will be banned on the odd-numbered, or north side, of New York Avenue from Boston Street to its dead end beyond the park.
Parking will be banned on the east side of Concord Street and along 500 feet of Berwick Street during the same hours.
The bans were amended by the council from a full parking ban extending May 1 to Sept. 1, and gained some support from neighbors.
The baseball season and a state tournament last summer brought increased traffic to the neighborhood off Maine Street and adjacent to the Interstate 295 Spur. Neighbors said people coming to games parked on lawns, blocked fire hydrants and prevented residents from parking in front of their homes.
Police Chief Ed Googins said the parking bans are needed throughout the week and conditions have been so congested that fire and rescue vehicles may not be able to get through if unrestricted parking continued along the streets.
Conditions have already been eased at the seven-acre park because tree removal has created about 25 off-street parking spots at the Little League fields.
Construction of a $75,000 park next to Redbank Community Center, $230,000 for sidewalk improvements on Broadway between Wescott Road and Glen Way, $7,500 to help fund Meals on Wheels and $4,500 to provide bus passes for low-income residents are among the elements of the action plan for CDBG funding for fiscal year 2014.
Councilors were asked to approve more than $388,000 of spending in the action plan to be submitted to county officials for inclusion in a wider plan to be submitted by the county to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by May 15.
The grants will be supplemented by $92,000 in leftover funds, according to City Manager Jim Gailey.
Gailey said grant applications from city and area organizations such as the Southern Maine Area Agency on Aging were received by Jan. 4 and reviewed by the city Community Development Advisory Committee through last month.
Grant spending is capped at 15 percent on public services and 20 percent on administrative and planning portions, and housing and infrastructure projects must be done in areas where at least 51 percent of the households rank as low- to moderate-income.
The city CDBG allocation is measured at 23 percent of what is granted to Portland annually, and Gailey said the anticipated $388,000 in grants is an estimate that accounts for 5 percent reductions in federal spending as a result of sequestration.