The Maine Department of Transportation will restore the same number of off-street parking spaces from its original plans for downtown Wiscasset to its current plans, according to DOT and town officials.
The announcement follows a meeting between DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt and Wiscasset Board of Selectmen Chair Judy Colby, Vice Chair Benjamin Rines Jr., and Town Manager Marian Anderson in Wiscasset on Friday, July 20.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss parking issues in connection with the DOT’s downtown project, which will remove on-street parking from Main Street.
The project will include the construction of a new parking lot on Railroad Avenue, but the DOT had scrapped plans for a parking lot on the site of Haggett’s Garage, at 36 Water St., due to local opposition to the demolition of the building and the project as a whole.
With the project going forward after multiple lawsuits and referendums, downtown business owners and town officials expressed concern about a parking shortage without the Water Street lot.
Anderson, Colby, and Rines agreed that the meeting with Bernhardt was positive and said the commissioner assured them that the DOT’s goal is to work with the town and provide the same number of parking spaces that was in the original plan.
The DOT did not commit to providing the parking at the Haggett’s Garage site, which the DOT bought from Coastal Enterprises Inc. by eminent domain last year.
Colby said the 1 1/4-hour meeting was constructive, and she wished it could have been held much earlier.
“I believe the townspeople will be very pleased with the way the town of Wiscasset will look when the work by (the DOT) is completed,” Colby said in a brief phone interview Monday, July 23.
Rines said town officials also received good news regarding parking near the Middle Street and Water Street intersections with Main Street.
According to Rines, the commissioner said the DOT wants to keep 30 feet from each crosswalk clear of parking. However, the town can decide what parking to allow on both streets otherwise.
DOT Press Secretary Ted Talbot, in a Tuesday email, said DOT and town officials “had a good, productive discussion regarding side-street and off-street parking related to the downtown project.”
“Both entities support moving forward with a plan to provide a number of parking spaces consistent with the original concept, including off-street on Water Street,” Talbot said.