Parking during Blues Fest

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES – Mainers and tourists visiting the Causeway this summer aren’t asking to have the red carpet rolled out for them. They just want a place to park.

It will be the red carpet treatment for motorists: Residents and businessmen and even clergy have collaborated in an effort to expand places for people to park their vehicles beyond the state required minimum of 35 parking spaces on the immediate Causeway.

Naples resident and attorney Robert “Bob” Neault has drawn up an agreement with The Cornerstone Gospel Church, located on Route 114, to open up its parking lot to the public during the tourist season from now until early October. The move comes just in time for this weekend’s Maine Blues Festival, which promises an attendance of more than 4,000 people.

It was important for the townspeople to make more parking into a reality before Fathers’ Day weekend when the crowds arrives for Maine Blues Festival that kicks of Friday and winds down Sunday, Neault said.

“We are doing this to enhance the businesses by increasing the availability to park on the Causeway,” he said. Ideally, business owners and employees of downtown businesses would park at the church parking lot, and leave the closer parking spots for patrons, he added.

Monday, Neault brought the agreement before the Naples Board of Selectmen, and requested that Town Manger Derik Goodine check into making sure the church’s parking lot was covered under the town’s insurance.

“I need to check with the insurance company that we are covered under the Maine Torte Claims Act,” Goodine said.

The agreement with Cornerstone Gospel Church will open the 50-space lot to the public from now through early October. If special functions such as a wedding are taking place, the church will post signs to indicate the parking lot is closed to the public, Neault explained.

There will be a fee of $10 per season.

Also, Neault has been talking with property owner Dick Dyke about clearing space for another 30 parking spots on the Brandy Pond side of the Causeway. Neault said he was uncertain if the area would be available before the weekend, but he planned to phone Dyke about progress on the possible parking area. As soon as those additional parking spaces are ready for the public, “that about doubles what we had on the Causeway, and everyone would be happy with that,” Neault said.

Everyone has been aware of the need to expand parking, which becomes a bigger issue during well-attended town events like the Fourth of July activities, Independence Day fireworks, the ice derby in February, and the upcoming blues festival. Maine Blues Festival Coordinator Jill Steinman said she was delighted with the parking arrangement shifting into gear prior to the popular event.

In another annual effort to eliminate the headache of finding a parking spot, festival-goers can catch a shuttle bus. Shuttle buses (yellow school buses) will be transporting people to the multiple venues, where blues is being played around the town of Naples.

For more information, go to www.mainebluesfestival.com. Using the buses assists in alleviating parking problems and traffic congestion on festival days, with events taking place on the Village Green, along the Causeway, and at establishments along Route 11.

In an official move, the town endorsed the use of the school buses owned by SAD 61. “They’ve been kind to let us use their buses,” Town Manager Goodine said.

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