SKOWHEGAN — For two nickels or 10 pennies, you could park for two hours in downtown Skowhegan.
That was more than 30 years ago, before parking meters were removed from the sidewalks and stacked in a pile at the bullpen, a gated area behind the town highway garage.
Now area residents can buy a piece of Skowhegan history — those parking meters are for sale for $25 each, Town Manager John Doucette said recently.
“There were approximately 25 parking meters we were selling with a bunch of town-owned property that was going out to bid,” Doucette said. “We were looking at selling them as a group, then we had people come in and talk to the selectmen saying, ‘Gee, I’d like to buy one or two,’ so we brought it back to selectmen and agreed to sell them for $25 apiece.”
So far, Doucette said, the town has sold five or six of the metal meters, manufactured in Oklahoma City with a red “expired” flag in a glass window to indicate that parking time was up and the meter needed to be fed again. Each meter has a little lock box at the bottom, where coins would land and later be cleaned out by a police officer or meter maid. No keys are available and the lock mechanisms are corroded.
Also with the parking meters, the town was selling old traffic lights, a dump truck, a sidewalk plow and a vacuum truck that didn’t work any more, Doucette said.
“It was kind of like historical — deja vu — there used to be parking meters in the downtown area,” he said. “A lot of people like to put them in their driveway like it was a parking lot. I think it’s more of a conversation piece.”
Skowhegan Code Enforcement Officer Randall Gray said he remembers the parking meters lining downtown streets when he was learning to drive as a teenager.
“I think late ’70s is when they were removed — I don’t think they were here in the ’80s,” he said.
Skowhegan Road Commissioner Greg Dore said the parking meters were already piled up behind the town garage when he took over 21 years ago.
“I would think we decommissioned them because we wanted to make the downtown more friendly for the businesses and give them free parking,” he said. “But that was before my time.”
Anyone interested in buying an old parking meter can call Dore at the Highway Department on Cleveland Street at 474-6911 or the Town Office at 474-6900.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367