WATERVILLE — A new committee charged with helping to develop a parking management strategy for downtown in light of revitalization efforts met for the first time Wednesday to discuss its goals, one of which is to review a recently completed traffic study completed last year.

With $45 million in investments being made on Main Street, the population downtown is expected to increase significantly with people living, working, shopping, eating and attending events there. Colby College is building a residential-retail complex and boutique hotel on Main Street and is renovating the former Hains building for office and retail space.

While the traffic study, completed by consultants Gorrill Palmer, says the city now has enough parking, it also recommends developing a parking management strategy that might include parking enforcement, paying for some parking, and ensuring business patrons needing to park close to businesses have spots available. The traffic study was funded by the city, Colby and the state Department of Transportation.

The Colby residential complex would have 200 students, as well as faculty and staff members, living in it by August 2018. The building would displace about 90 parking spaces in the city-owned lot known as The Concourse where the Downtown Waterville Farmers Market is held Thursdays in the warmer months. Parking Committee member Ken Vlodek, owner of Yardgoods Center, on The Concourse, spelled out for the committee Wednesday how scarce parking availability is when the farmers market is in operation there; and with the new retail-residential complex in place, he said, the situation will be tighter. Colby officials say those living in the building will have parking spaces available to them in the Colby-owned lot on Appleton Street, incentives for them to park on the Mayflower Hill campus will be in place, and a regular shuttle vehicle will travel to and from the campus from downtown.

City Manager Michael Roy and City Engineer Greg Brown, who are nonvoting members of the committee, have said the parking management strategy will be an evolving one and there will be no magic bullet to solve parking problems as the city grows.

Roy said the committee’s purpose is to review the traffic study, help develop the parking management strategy, investigate the need for hiring a parking consultant to help with the work and explore potential for creating new parking sites in and around downtown. Also, the committee is being asked to define costs of proposed parking improvement options and develop recommendations for increased parking-related venues. Discussing whether a parking garage should be built also will be discussed.

John Fortier, owner of a State Farm Insurance agency, was chosen as chairman of the committee, which was created by the City Council and whose members were appointed by Mayor Nick Isgro. Other members, besides Vlodek, are City Councilor Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6; Planning Board member Tom Nale; Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president for planning; Charlie Giguere, president of the board of directors of Waterville Main Street and owner of the Silver Street Tavern; Al Hodsdon, owner of A.E. Hodsdon Engineering; Luke Duplessie, owner of Mainely Brews; Kevin Joseph, owner of The Pub; and Cindy Jacobs, president of the for Waterville Public Library board of trustees.

Other nonvoting members are Paul Ureneck, director of commercial real estate for Colby and Elm City LLC; Mark Turner, director of public works; City Planner Ann Beverage; and members of the Police Department. Tate and Clark were absent from Wednesday’s session.

Fifteen people turned out for the meeting, held in the council chambers of The Center downtown. The next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday in the same location, and Roy emphasized that anyone from the public wanting to attend is encouraged to do so.

Sixteen pages of the traffic study related to parking were handed to committee members, who were asked to read them before the next meeting. They also were asked to walk around downtown in the next week to identify any possible new parking spaces that have not been identified previously. The idea was raised after Vlodek said there are potential places for parking spaces behind the mall that includes Goodwill and Inland Family Care on The Concourse. He also identified another possible spot that is visible when one enters Appleton Street from Elm Street. Brown embraced Vlodek’s idea of exploring places that might be under the radar.

“I’d like to put that under ‘Discussion for Every Nook and Cranny,’ ” Brown said.

Meanwhile, Roy said he thought a good homework assignment for the committee was for each member to come back to the next meeting with a new parking spot that has not been talked about.

The committee decided to meet at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and try to limit the duration of each meeting to an hour. While the committee plans to meet again in a week, its members discussed meeting every two weeks after that.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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