WATERVILLE — Anna Grant will graduate in less than two weeks from Thomas College with a degree in criminal justice and already has landed a job in law enforcement.

Waterville Parking Enforcement Officer Anna Grant chalks the tire of a vehicle parked beside a 2-hour parking zone sign in the Concourse in Waterville on Monday. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Parking enforcement, that is. Grant, 22, is Waterville’s new parking enforcement official, having been hired about two weeks ago thanks to a $10,000 contribution from Colby College to help fund the part-time, 20-hour position for the first year.

She comes to the city at a time when parking discussions have been at the forefront as downtown revitalization efforts continue. Colby last year opened a mixed-use residential complex on The Concourse that houses 200 students, faculty and staff.

Some business owners and employees have complained that motorists park in front of their businesses for longer than the 2-hour limit downtown, prohibiting patrons from having convenient access to their shops.

The city is working on parking issues and will eventually develop a comprehensive parking management program. Meanwhile, more construction projects will be going on downtown, traffic patterns will change and improvements will be made to make downtown safer and more user-friendly.

The City Council recently voted to increase fines for parking to be more in line with those in other communities. What once was a $10 fine for parking beyond two hours in a 2-hour space from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday is now $25. Parking in a handicapped spot formerly was $50 and now is $200. The city’s Parking Study Committee recommended the increase in January. In February, the City Council voted to accept Colby’s $10,000 gift and increase parking fines.

Grant has written 22 parking tickets in about the last week. Most of the violations involved people parking beyond the 2-hour limit on Main, Temple, Appleton and other downtown streets, as well as on The Concourse. Some spaces on The Concourse are available for all-day parking, and they are located at the center of the large lot.

Grant said Monday that so far, people she has met downtown have been friendly and welcoming.

“They’ve said, ‘Thank you,’ a lot, which is nice,” she said, adding that she enjoys the job, being outdoors, meeting people and visiting businesses.

Police Chief Joseph Massey says that, with parking fine amounts now higher than they were, he anticipates the parking enforcement official position will become self-sustaining and continue beyond one year.

Sitting between Waterville Police Deputy Chief Bill Bonney, left, and Chief Joe Massey, Anna Grant talks about her new job as Parking Enforcement Officer on Monday. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

The city has not had a parking enforcement official for at least 30 years. Instead, police officers have ticketed vehicles as time allows, according to Massey. But police are busy with more pressing crimes and have not been able to devote the amount of time needed for parking enforcement, he said. Grant will provide a consistent presence downtown and will work on a flexible schedule that can change as needed, he said.

“Anna is certainly going to be a great addition to our parking enforcement efforts,” Massey said. “She will concentrate on downtown.”

Meeting Monday morning at Jorgensen’s Cafe with Grant and Deputy police Chief Bill Bonney, Massey said part of Grant’s job will be to meet with business people downtown and listen to their concerns about parking. He said the goal is to get people to comply voluntarily with parking rules and he thinks her presence will help in that respect.

Bonney teaches at Thomas and Grant was in his criminal investigations class this spring, so they know each other well.

Waterville Parking Enforcement Officer Anna Grant chalks the tire of a vehicle parked in the 2-hour parking zone in the Concourse beside the new Colby College dormitory building in Waterville on Monday. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

“She is a great student, very involved, very participatory, eager to learn,” Bonney said.

A 2015 graduate of Gorham High School, Grant did a couple of internships while at Thomas, including one at Somerset County Jail and another with a dog training agency where canines are trained to sniff out bombs and narcotics. She also interned at Portland Police Department while a student at Gorham High, she said.

She hopes to attend the Maine Criminal Justice Academy with an eye toward becoming a police officer, and doing parking enforcement is a good first step, she said.

Grant was chosen for the job from among four applicants, according to Massey, who has trained her in department policies, some defensive tools and people skills. Bonney, who oversees programs at the police department, said she will answer to the on-duty supervisors, who are sergeants.

Grant wears high-visibility yellow and black with a police department patch, carries a radio and is in constant communication with officers, according to Bonney and Massey.

The chief said he looks forward to hearing comments from the public about the parking enforcement program.

“The more feedback we receive about parking issues, the better we will be able to address them,” he said. “I hope people take the time to stop and talk to her if they have the opportunity.”

Later Monday morning, Grant was walking at Main and Silver streets where she stopped to chat briefly with Joe Plumstead, head chef at Silver Street Tavern. Plumstead said afterward that the city needs a parking enforcement person, particularly with more people downtown.

“She’s great,” he said of Grant. “She’s really pleasant. She seems like a really nice young woman. I just hope she doesn’t have to wind up arguing with knuckleheads who think they can park wherever they want, whenever they want.”

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