Parking logistics persist on Monday; pantry seeks new location

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Parking spaces around the Naples Town Office continue to be scarce, particularly for a few hours in the afternoon every other Monday.

The area immediately behind the town office, which was once open for the taking, has now been designated for town employees only. Those signs were posted two weeks ago.

This designation was made so that the town employees could park their vehicles there — thus opening up space in the front of the building for people making stops at the Post Office or the Town Office.

One problem is that the new parking rule has made it difficult to park for a few dozen volunteers with CrossWalk Community Outreach, the nonprofit group that offers twice monthly free meals and food pantry access.

In recent months, volunteers had been permitted to park behind the town office. This put volunteers in close proximity to the shed from which they unload boxes for the pantry.

Pat Griffins, the resident Master Gardener for the CrossWalk Community Gardens, said the change in the parking came as a complete surprise — something that she had not been forewarned about.

“I am shocked. I am appalled. I feel so unwelcome,” Griffins said.

“It makes it really hard to teach a gardening class,” when people cannot find a place to park, she said.

Griffins, an Otisfield resident, teaches classes on gardening topics to the public on the alternate Mondays when the food pantry is not held.

On Monday, she was dropping off ripe tomatoes from the garden for that afternoon’s food pantry. She was worried that she might be towed if she did not move her car quickly.

According to Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak, the change in parking has been in effect for two weeks.

He said that the nonprofit is still welcome in the town’s gymnasium — despite a shortage of parking spots for both volunteers and clients.

“CrossWalk is a program that has a lot of people who utilize that,” he said.

“We haven’t got any complaints. We are worried about emergency access. There are other organizations that use the building,” Paraschak said.

“CrossWalk is looking for a bigger place. They are still welcome to use our building,” he said.

For public safety reasons, parking will be more restrictive in the near future, he said.

“We are in the process of making a ‘no parking’ designation on Lambs Mills Road,” he said.

Lambs Mills Road is a town-owned road. Therefore, it is not necessary to go through the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to get permission to restrict parking on the shoulders of the road, he said.

“We are going to do that for one side of Lambs Mills Road — the side closest to the town office,” he said.

“We could always change that down the road,” Paraschak said.

The change is being made to allow “access for emergency vehicles, and so that the road doesn’t get too congested. Sometimes, so many cars are parked there it makes it so two cars can barely pass,” he said.

In the meantime, some members of CrossWalk have said it is time to find a bigger place than the Town Gymnasium.

“We’ve outgrown this facility. We want to do more things, offer more services for the community,” Dave Moore said.

Later, Moore said helping residents bring food boxes to vehicles parked at the far end of the Village Green “is good exercise.”

Moore said he was thankful that CrossWalk is able to use the town gym. It simply seems evident that the organization is experiencing some growing pains. At this point, the process of finding a suitable building will take both time and money, he said, but it is likely the direction that CrossWalk is heading.

“CrossWalk wishes the community to know that we are raising funds for a facility of our own, where we can expand our work and better accommodate the growing number of food insecure folks,” Crosswalk Vice President Nancy Vose said.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the building fund or learn more about CrossWalk’s plans for the future, please call Director Joanna Moore, 617-3226, or Nancy Vose, 693-4687.



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