WATERVILLE — The City Council this week authorized the formation of a new committee that would help develop a parking management plan in light of downtown revitalization efforts that are expected to bring hundreds more people living and working downtown in the next couple of years.

The committee will consider a variety of parking issues, including whether the city should charge for some parking spaces and ramp up police enforcement of parking rules, how to ensure adequate parking areas near businesses and offices for those who require it such as older people, and whether to add new parking areas such as parking lots or a possible parking garage.

“It’s going to be a combination of a lot of different solutions,” City Manager Michael Roy said Wednesday. “Maybe we can create a new parking lot somewhere. There’ll be more parking enforcement. There’ll be some places in the city that will be designated for certain uses. I think the final solution will involve not one or two recommendations, but three or four or five different ones.”

Councilors voted 7-0 Tuesday night to authorize Mayor Nick Isgro to appoint a 10-member parking committee. As part of the vote, the council agreed that the committee will be made up of one or two councilors, one or two Planning Board members, a representative from Colby College, and representatives from Waterville Main Street, downtown businesses, and Waterville Public Library. City staff members also will take part as ex-officio or non-voting members.

The committee will review a traffic study that was completed last year and was funded equally by the city, Colby and state Department of Transportation. The study determined there are enough parking spaces downtown, but it suggested a parking plan be developed to ensure those needing to park close to businesses and offices may do so, that the city charge money for some parking and that parking rules be enforced. It also suggested people be encouraged to walk farther to park at places such as Head of Falls off Front Street, and that the lot there be improved with new lighting to help ensure it is safe.

Traffic study officials said that with more people living and working downtown, more will park at Head of Falls, and having more people use the lot there will also add more security to the site.

The new parking committee also will investigate the need for hiring a consultant to help with the parking issue, explore potential for creating new parking sites in and around downtown and define costs of proposed parking improvement options and develop recommendations for increasing parking-related revenues.

Councilor Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6, said Tuesday that she has spoken with many businesses along Main Street, and she thinks it is important that they have membership on the committee.

Jill Hodsdon, who with her husband, Al, owns A.E. Hodsdon Consulting Engineers at 10 Common St. downtown, said she does not believe the city has enough parking, and with development of a Colby College student residential complex, boutique hotel and building renovations taking place as part of downtown revitalization efforts, the parking situation will get worse.

The council on March 21 will consider leasing parking spaces in the city-owned lot at the south end of Front Street to Colby College for use by the hotel, which will be built on the former Levine’s lot. Jill Hodsdon said her building on the corner of Common and Front streets has 28 employees, and many of them park in that lot, as do some other local businesses. The lot has about 60 spaces.

Clients and employees of the engineering firm come and go all day long, and it would not make sense for them to park at Head of Falls, particularly in the winter when the stairway to that parking lot is icy and slippery, she said. The parking spaces in front of the Hodsdon firm often are taken up by people visiting or employed by City Hall and sometimes they park all day, even though the parking is restricted to two hours, she said.

The Downtown Waterville Farmers Market will be moved this summer from The Concourse, where the Colby student residential complex will be built, to Castonguay Square, across Common Street from the Hodsdon’s company, and on Thursdays when the market is open, the parking problems will be exacerbated, she said.

She said her husband, Al, asked to be appointed to the parking committee, as he is equally as concerned about the parking issues.

“We’ve been in downtown Waterville for 43 years, paying taxes,” she said.

Isgro said Wednesday that Al Hodsdon is the one member of the committee that he can confirm, as he was the first to ask and he is directly affected by parking issues. Isgro said he has had a lot of requests from people interested in serving on the committee and has been pleasantly surprised at the number of businesspeople from different areas of downtown who want to be members, as well as residents who want to be included.

“I think already, from what I’ve seen, we’re going to have a good diverse group of people who have a vested interest in making sure that parking works downtown,” Isgro said. “I think a lot of different views will be represented.”

He said he is confident the parking committee will come up with good recommendations.

“You’re never going to please everybody, but I think people will be pleasantly surprised at the solutions that will come out,” he said. “At the end of the day, when you look at vibrant economies, vibrant towns and cities throughout the state and beyond, if the biggest problem we have is whether we have enough parking for everybody, I would say that’s a pretty good problem to have.”

Roy said he also thinks a discussion about possibly building a parking garage will come up at the committee meetings.

“Whether it’s one of the final recommendations coming out of the committee is another question, but the idea of a parking garage is something that has to be discussed,” he said.

During city meetings recently, people have suggested building a parking garage on a lot where the former Elks lodge was demolished on Appleton Street, but downtown revitalization officials said that lot is too small for a parking garage.

Roy said that while the parking committee will include only 10 people, the public is welcome and encouraged to attend the meetings, which may be scheduled for once a month and perhaps more often for the first three months or so. The meeting dates will be publicized once they are set, and anyone wanting to be on a notification list for meetings may contact City Hall, he said.

The traffic study explored the idea of having two-way traffic downtown, as it was many years ago, and while the parking committee may talk about that at some point, the panel is not charged with making a recommendation in that regard, according to Roy. The City Council will make a final decision concerning two-way traffic.

Roy said he is not sure when city officials will discuss two-way traffic. He said that he thinks vehicular traffic changes will be more apparent after the hotel and residential complex are built and the Hains building fully renovated, and that may be the time to launch discussions about two-way traffic.

“That’s my own personal thought — I’m not speaking on behalf of the City Council,” he said.

Roy said he plans to attend the parking meetings and City Engineer Greg Brown will be heavily involved in the parking development efforts. Isgro said Brown is a valuable player in downtown efforts.

“Greg has been an incredible resource throughout all this downtown planning,” he said. “He will continue to be with all of the various issues — not just parking.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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