Tighter rules proposed for downtown parking in Brunswick

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BRUNSWICK — Increased fines and reduced time limits are among ordinance changes being proposed for a downtown area where parking can be considered a competitive sport.

Councilor Margo Knight, chairwoman of the Master Plan Implementation Committee, Wednesday said the proposed changes could be on the Town Council’s Dec. 3 agenda and headed to a public hearing at its Dec. 16 meeting.

She said the Ad Hoc SWAT Team On Parking made the recommendations after business owners expressed concerns that raised crosswalks proposed by the town for Maine Street would reduce parking by seven spots.

The downtown area has already experienced a net loss of 45 spots this year, Director of Public Works John Foster said in October.

The ad hoc group was formed to address the business owners’ parking concerns, and its members include Knight, a few business owners, Brunswick Downtown Association Executive Director Debora King, and Police Department Capt. Mark Waltz.

The group has proposed several ways to address the number of parking spots and to create a balance between short- and long-term parking availability.

“I’m really pleased with the progress and agreement that has come out of this group of people,” Knight said at Monday’s MPIC meeting.

She said Alisa Coffin, owner of The Great Impasta, and Toby Tarpinian, a co-owner of Morning Glory Natural Foods, helped survey downtown businesses.

Knight said one of the proposed changes is a parking fine increase from $5 to $15 per violation. She said Waltz found that towns like Lisbon and Freeport have $30 fines, while Portland has a $15 fine.

Knight said parking enforcers also would no longer issue warnings to first-time violators; instead they would issue tickets for all offenses.

Another proposed change would change some of the two-hour parking spots to 30-minute spaces, Knight said.

She said drivers also wouldn’t be able to switch parking spots on the same block every time the parking limit expired.

“For those people who move their cars every two hours, if they’re still in that same block, they would also receive a ticket for overtime parking,” Knight said. “We all agreed that would be fair.”

MPIC member Newell Augur said the proposed rule is geared towards downtown employees who might change parking spots every two hours to avoid fines.

Augur said the group is trying “to find other places in town and design other strategies for those employees … so they have a set place they can go, but it’s not taking up the prime parking spots right on Maine (Street) that most consumers (use).”

Knight said that research is being aided by studies conducted by Bowdoin College students in a geographic information systems class.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.