The Twin Villages Alliance has launched a new, interactive website it hopes will help visitors, employers, and residents find parking to fit their needs in both Damariscotta and Newcastle.
The availability of parking during the summer has been the subject of ongoing conversations in both towns, with the topic of a pay-to-park option in Damariscotta surfacing repeatedly over the past five years.
In August 2016, the Damariscotta Board of Selectmen discussed the possibility of instituting a pay-to-park pilot program in the municipal parking lot during its yearly goal-setting workshop, but a plan never moved forward.
More recently, a discussion about parking availability took place during Skidompha Public Library’s Chats with Champions series in May, when four Lincoln County natives spoke about the next generation of business owners in the Twin Villages.
During the panel, both Michelle Phelps, owner of Phelps Architects Inc., and August Avantaggio, owner of Riverside Butcher Co., mentioned the difficulty of finding parking downtown for customers and employees alike.
While concerns about parking aren’t new, the remarks made during the panel sparked renewed interest in looking at the issue in a different way, according to Torie DeLisle.
DeLisle, director of development and communications for Skidompha, and Twin Villages Alliance Chair Mary Kate Reny met after the forum to discuss a new, collaborative approach to helping people find parking.
“We thought it was time to address it again, but in a different way,” DeLisle said. “Rather than look for a silver bullet that will solve the entire problem for the long term, let’s look and see if there’s something we can do to make the situation better right now.”
Skidompha hosted and facilitated a roundtable discussion about seasonal solutions for parking June 27. The discussion, presented by the Twin Villages Alliance, generated the idea of creating an online parking directory to present parking options to the public, DeLisle said.
“It’s something that’s simple, and that we can make happen right away, but the big thing is, the community is able to actively participate to help solve this ongoing problem,” DeLisle said.
The website, parktwinvillages.org, went live over the past weekend, but will be improved and updated, DeLisle said. The site features an interactive map with different “zones” marked to meet different needs.
The green zones, which include Church, Elm, and Water streets in Damariscotta and Glidden Street in Newcastle, are for employees or residents who need all-day parking. The purple zones, including on-street parking on Main Street in Damariscotta and Newcastle, the municipal parking lot in Damariscotta, and the parking lot in the Elm Street Plaza in Damariscotta, offer short-term parking for visitors to the Twin Villages.
In addition, Damariscotta Bank & Trust, the First National Bank, and Skidompha Public Library have all offered their parking lots for use after business hours and on days when they are closed.
The site also has a page dedicated to a parking exchange program, in which people can post if they have a parking space available for use, or if they need parking. DeLisle said the plan is to make the page more interactive, so visitors can comment on each other’s posts and communicate directly.
Another roundtable discussion is planned for the fall to talk about the response to the website and possible next steps to continue improving the parking situation downtown, DeLisle said. Both she and Reny hope the website is a step toward finding a long-term solution for parking in the Twin Villages.
“There are so many things to do and people to see downtown – it’s why we love it here. So does everyone else, especially for these two months of the year,” Reny said. “The website is a great way to display information and parking options to everyone who comes to Damariscotta.”