The Maine Department of Transportation takes a wicked beating in this newspaper.
Whether it’s the Sherman Lake/Marsh debacle, general town-to-town maintenance complaints, or whatever plan the department hatches for Wiscasset, folks line up to take shots at the department.
Sometimes the DOT brings criticism on itself, as with its head-scratcher of a scheme to use “credits” from the “preservation” of Sherman Marsh and the taking of property owners’ rights to destroy wetlands hours away.
Other times the DOT simply faces resistance to common-sense changes.
However, we are here today to give the DOT credit for its willingness to work with the town of Wiscasset on downtown parking.
With apologies to our readers in Wiscasset, the town has put the DOT through the wringer during the planning process for the downtown project.
With business owners and the town suing the DOT to stop the demolition of an old building on Water Street to make room for a parking lot, the DOT scrapped that part of the project.
Many tens of thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees later, when it became clear the project would go forward and the town asked the DOT to reinstate off-street parking, the DOT could have laughed at the request.
Instead, the DOT has graciously committed to provide the same amount of parking in its original plans.
Despite all the criticism the DOT takes in public meetings and letters to the editor – and occasionally in this space – its commitment to work with Wiscasset is consistent with its past actions.
The DOT repeatedly shows a willingness to respect the public process, incorporate feedback from local communities, and change its plans when those communities are steadfast in their opposition.
Sometimes we think the DOT’s almost too wobbly. But this is a positive editorial.
A lack of adequate parking in post-construction Wiscasset could have hamstrung the town and its businesses for years. Instead, the DOT has come back to the table willing to find a solution.
The DOT deserves credit for its flexibility and its attempts to satisfy many outspoken constituencies, perhaps an impossible task in this case.
P.S. We still don’t like the traffic lights, DOT.