WATERVILLE — Motorists can expect to see a new parking arrangement soon on The Concourse downtown as construction of a Colby College residential mixed-use building starts at the corner of Appleton and Main streets.
Designated all-day and short-term parking spaces now are in various locations on The Concourse; but soon all-day parking will be in the south-central area of the large lot, and two-hour parking will be around the perimeter for shoppers’ convenience. The number of all-day spaces will not be reduced.
The city’s Public Works Department will install signs on lamp posts on The Concourse that will show where short- and long-term parking will be, according to City Engineer Greg Brown.
“This is just advance notice that changes are coming and that the signs will be erected within the next couple of weeks,” Brown said.
Workers next week will put up a construction fence around the northeast tip of The Concourse, where the residential mixed-use building will be built, according to Paul Ureneck, director of commercial real estate for Elm City LLC, an affiliate of Colby College.
“Concrete Jersey barriers will be installed along the Main street boundary on Monday,” Ureneck said Friday. “The safety-security fence will be installed on Tuesday.”
About 90 parking spaces on the Colby site will be eliminated to make way for construction. Ureneck said people wanting to get regular updates on construction may go to Watervillepartnership.org, a website Colby created.
Brown said that once parking signs are set up on The Concourse, stars painted on many parking spaces that now designate all-day parking will be painted over and covered up, as they no longer will be used. It was difficult for people to see the stars when vehicles were parked over them, and in winter they often were covered with snow and ice, he said. He noted that long-term parking is not just for people wanting to park all day, but for those who wish to park just a few minutes, a half hour or a few hours.
The city’s Parking Study Committee, of which Brown and Ureneck are members, recommended The Concourse parking changes and has been working on parking issues in light of downtown revitalization efforts with the knowledge that more people will be living, working and recreating downtown and that the parking scenario will change over time.
The changes on The Concourse allow patrons of businesses to be able to park closer to where they need to shop, bank or eat and leave longer-term parking areas farther away. Brown noted that people who work downtown may use free long-term parking, including large parking areas at Head of Falls off Front Street, north and south of the Two-Cent Bridge. Some all-day parking also is available at the city-owned lot on Front Street.
Maps of the new parking configuration for The Concourse will be placed Monday — weather permitting — under vehicle windshield wipers on The Concourse, and Brown distributed them Friday to downtown businesses. On the backs of the maps, the phone number, 207-200-3821, and an email address, [email protected], will be listed and people may call or email with comments about parking.
“If somebody has concerns or complaints or suggestions, we are looking for feedback,” Brown said. “As we go through this, we expect we will learn, and the best way to learn is to listen to what customers have to say.”
The phone messages will be converted to emails so city officials may gather all the information received, Brown said, adding that business owners may want to post copies of the map at their locations.
Brown noted that no changes have been proposed for on-street parking and only The Concourse is affected by changes.
“The parking committee and Waterville Police Department are sensitive to making sweeping or frequent changes. It is anticipated that this initial Concourse modification will serve parking customers for the remainder of this year. Obviously, user comments, observations and data from parking violations will all be considered for any future modifications proposed by the parking committee.”
Meanwhile, the parking committee will meet at 5 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center downtown. City Manager Michael Roy said members are expected to discuss a request by the City Council that the parking committee consider and make a recommendation to councilors about whether the city should sell the former Elden Inn lot off Main Street to Sidney Geller, who owns a nearby office building. Geller wants to use it for parking for his tenants.
Amy Calder — 861-9247