The Damariscotta Board of Selectmen has voted to support a community fundraising effort for improvements to the downtown parking lot.
The selectmen voted 4-0 Dec. 4 to “endorse and encourage a community fundraising effort” for the “waterfront project” and accept an offer from the Twin Villages Alliance to assist in the effort.
The selectmen plan to ask alliance representatives to attend their Wednesday, Jan. 15 meeting to discuss the matter.
The decision follows a Nov. 21 community meeting about how to pay for repairs and upgrades to the lot.
The results of a survey at the meeting show 55 of the people at the meeting, almost all of those present, support a community fundraising effort. The number far exceeds the support for property taxes, with 23 votes, and various pay-to-park models, with 8-10 apiece.
The people at the meeting also generally favor grants, with 48 supporters, and contributions from surrounding communities, with 36, as possible funding methods.
The town can assist with a community fundraising effort “in a variety of ways,” Damariscotta Town Manager Matt Lutkus said, although it cannot solicit donations.
The town can can provide seed money from its capital reserve account for the parking lot, Lutkus said, and can continue to apply for grants.
The selectmen stopped short of ruling out a pay-to-park system for the lot, despite Lutkus’ advice to do so.
“The pay-for-parking is a real negative for a lot of people, and it would detract from the enthusiasm we would otherwise garner for a community fundraising effort,” Lutkus said.
The selectmen split 2-2 on Chairman Josh Pinkham’s original motion to endorse the fundraising effort and take pay-to-park “off the table” for the present.
Vice Chairman Ronn Orenstein voted with the chairman; but Selectmen David Atwater and Vicki Pinkham voted against the motion.
“I think we should continue to look at all sources of revenue,” Atwater said.
“I agree that we should leave all options open at this time,” Vicki Pinkham said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen with fundraising, and if we say we’re not going to do it, then we can’t do it.”
A second motion, again by Josh Pinkham, did not address pay-to-park. The motion carried, 4-0.