Village Restaurant owner Joe Marcoux and Yardgoods Center owner Joyce Vlodek Atkins, in front of their businesses in the Concourse in Waterville on Jan. 28, protested that Colby College students living in the downtown dorm were taking up parking spaces for their customers. The City Council raised parking fines and the college funded parking enforcement. Yardgoods customers attending classes were given permits that the Council extended for 90 days. Morning Sentinel file photo

WATERVILLE — Certain customers of Yardgoods Center on The Concourse will be able to park for up to three hours near the business for another 90 days, since the Waterville City Council on Tuesday voted to give special permits for that time period to people who can show they have handicapped plates.

Ninety-day parking permits were issued to Yardgoods in June to allow customers attending knitting classes there during certain hours to park longer than the designated two-hour limit. The permits were extended 60 more days in September and expired Oct. 31, according to the council agenda.

The permits were first issued to provide a temporary solution to a problem that had occurred with parking near Yardgoods during downtown revitalization efforts. Businesses in that area said those living in the Colby College dormitory downtown were parking for long periods in spaces normally used by older customers.

City Manager Michael Roy said Tuesday that the Yardgoods permits were being used by about 30 people.

Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, said the original intent of the permits was to provide a short-term solution until the city’s parking study committee could come up with a long-term solution, and he was opposed to renewing the permits, which show favoritism to one business. Mayor Nick Isgro said a solution could not really be identified until the council votes on the redesign of The Concourse.

The parking committee met recently but did not have a quorum, according to Council Chairman Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, who is a committee member.

Isgro said he thought another 90-day permit extension wasn’t going to hurt anyone.

A discussion ensued, with Councilor Jay Coelho, D-Ward 5, wondering aloud if the city could just change all the parking spaces in that area to a three-hour limit. Thomas said permits could be issued only to people with handicapped plates. All-day parking spots are only about 100 feet from Yardgoods, he said.

Thomas proposed the permits be renewed for 90 days, but they should be limited only to those who could demonstrate they have handicapped plates.

Councilor Claude Francke said that this time of year, extraneous factors, such as snowfall and the fact that crossing a lot in winter can be difficult for people, must be taken into account.

Thomas’ amendment passed, 4-3, with Coelho, Francke and Councilor Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, opposed.

The council voted 5-2 on the resolution as amended, with Coelho and Morris dissenting.

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