More parking sought for Main Hill

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

PARKING DISPARITY — Julie Whelchel led an appeal at Tuesday’s Bridgton Selectmen meeting to increase parking availability in the Main Hill neighborhood. She used a map to show the dearth of parking on the Main Hill section of Main Street, when compared to points closer to Pondicherry Square.

PARKING DISPARITY — Julie Whelchel led an appeal
at Tuesday’s Bridgton Selectmen meeting to increase
parking availability in the Main Hill neighborhood. She
used a map to show the dearth of parking on the Main Hill section of Main Street, when compared to points
closer to Pondicherry Square.

When it comes to parking on Main Street in Bridgton, Main Hill is Pondicherry Square’s poor cousin — and that’s just not fair, Main Hill residents told Bridgton Selectmen Tuesday.

“It goes from 97 to 174 to 60 to eight,” Julie Whelchel told the board, referring to the number of downtown Main Street parking spaces from Pondicherry Square to Main Hill. She proposed adding 14 spaces on the west side of Main Street going up the hill, and also allowing parking on the south side of Fowler and Walker Streets.

The board agreed to create a committee to study the issue.

But Police Chief Kevin Schofield said the west side of Main Street going up the hill “is a little narrow for my comfort level” to create parking spaces, especially when considering the many big tractor-trailer trucks that travel through town.

Selectman Ken Murphy said the Maine Department of Transportation may not allow it in any case. And Public Works Director Jim Kidder said the state would have included parking along that section of Main Street when they redesigned the road, “if they thought it was a good idea.”

Whelchel said, however, that the big trucks speed coming down the hill, and the addition of parking “would naturally serve to slow that traffic.” She and her husband Rick live in a historic commercial building on the hill, and both feel the lack of parking is preventing that area of Main Street from growing.

If parking were to be allowed on Fowler and Walker Streets, it could only work if it was one-way, said Selectman Paul Hoyt, noting that those side streets are quite narrow.

Steve Stevens, owner of the William Perry House, offered to talk to the town about making space available behind his building for parking.

“The hill is growing,” said Stevens. “There’s going to be new businesses coming in.”

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