2012-03-16 / Front Page

One-way street could solve issue

By Kristy Wagner Staff Writer

Many Knightville business owners and residents came out Monday night to view and discuss an alternative neighborhood parking plan that was revised from the parking plan presented to the city council in February.

The original plan called for parallel parking on both sides of the street and a loss of angled parking in front of Knightville businesses from E Street to C Street.

South Portland City Councilors discussed an alternative parking plan for Knightville that allows for storefront angled parking to remain, with parallel spaces on the opposite side of the street. However, the change comes at the cost of creating one-way traffic for the two blocks that run from E Street to C Street.

City Manager Jim Gailey said the alternative parking plan was created based on feedback from Knightville business owners, who wanted to retain angled parking outside their storefronts. The new plan also had to fit parameters set by the Combined Sewage Overflow Streetscape project, which deals directly with sidewalks and curbing, both of which parking spaces could affect.

“Coming out of workshop, city staff discussed over the last days and weeks how we could configure parking and preserve the (CSO) project,” Gailey said. “The project’s timeline is just so tight. We need to get out of there around Thanksgiving before the paving window closes up.”

Gailey said the only alternative parking plan city staff could come up with called for one-way traffic for the two blocks that stretch from E Street and C Street. Gailey added that the angled parking spaces in front of businesses would need to be 45 degrees to fit into the CSO project parameters and the current zoning ordinance for that district dictates angled parking spaces must be 60 degrees. He said the council would have to amend the zoning ordinance to allow for 45 degree angled parking spaces for the alternative parking plan to work.

Business owners present at the workshop thanked Gailey and councilors for putting in the time to create the alternative parking plan.

“I think it’s a great compromise and the city listened to us and did something about (the original parking plan),” said Tom Smaha, owner of Smaha’s Legion Square Market on Ocean Street.

Some residents and business owners objected to one-way traffic on Ocean Street heading north from the roundabout.

“My main concern with the one way is that when cars exit the businesses on Ocean Street and take that first left, which is E Street, to get back to Cottage Road, there is going to be an incredible increase of traffic,” said Donna Snow, an E Street resident. “There are residents here too, not just businesses. That is just a lot of traffic. I want to go on the record saying I don’t like this one-way thing.”

Snow was not the only citizen concerned about increased traffic.

Caroline Hendry, a B Street resident, said she was concerned about traffic on Ocean Street as well.

“I definitely don’t want a one-way street on Ocean. I think the traffic flow in Knightville the way it is right now works great and I don’t think we should mess with it,” Hendry said.

Hendry added that she is fine with keeping angled parking in front of businesses, but she is opposed to parallel parking.

Susan Henderson, an E Street resident, said she didn’t think the one-way would increase traffic as dramatically as people fear it might.

“I think I would speak in favor of the proposal. I think it’s not going to add more traffic. The neighborhood absorbs the amount of cars now,” she said.

Pamela Leone, a neighborhood resident, said she felt as though the alternative parking plan sacrificed residents for business needs.

City councilors responded to public comments by reminding residents that the alternative parking plan is an attempt at satisfying the needs of the majority of residents and businesses, while successfully implementing the CSO project.

“In case anyone missed it, we’re trying to eliminate raw, untreated sewage being dumped into Casco Bay. That’s a really huge deal and it is our responsibility to handle that,” said City Councilor Jerry Jalbert.

Councilor Tom Coward agreed.

“This is a matter of trying to pack a lot into a small space,” Coward said. “The driving force behind the whole project is what’s going on under the street.”

Councilor Rosemarie De Angelis thanked the public for their input, but said they need to remember that professionals created the new parking plan and used their expertise to try and satisfy the needs of all interested parties.

“We’re trying desperately to satisfy people — that’s the reason why the plan came out the way it did,” De Angelis said. “When all is said and done, we hired professionals. They know more about this than we do.”

Mayor Patricia Smith said she wanted to see the parking project move forward and thinks the new alternative parking plan is a good way to go.

“I think the second proposal addresses some of (the issues with the first proposal) and I am pleased to see compromise working with some of that,” Smith said. “But the double-edged sword is we now have a oneway street.”

Smith said the city council and city staff are not going to strike the perfect balance for everyone.

She said no one brought up the idea of finding additional parking behind businesses.

“Are there some hidden spots where we could gain more parking? Let’s look in all those nooks and crannies,” Smith said.

Smith closed the discussion on a positive note and said the overall goal of the city was to maintain safety for the residents and business owners in the neighborhood, both through containing sewage overflow and by providing adequate and functional parking.

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