Parking spaces shrink, curbs grow taller

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CURBING TOO TALL? — Naples Board of Selectmen Chairman Christine Powers has one foot on the sidewalk and one foot on Route 302 to demonstrate the distance between the curb and the road, which will be surface paved this spring. This fall, the Town of Naples eliminated parking spaces on Route 302, immediately west of the Causeway. The move was made primarily for public safety reasons; and there will be “a net gain of parking when it all said and done,” Powers said on Tuesday. (De Busk photo)

NAPLES — Are the curbs too tall in Naples? Or is the local librarian’s car too close to the ground?

Naples Board of Selectmen Chairman Christine Powers recently asked about the new curb work on Route 302 near the Naples Public Library. Will the road be higher there, she asked.

“One thing I experienced, the new sidewalks and curbs are wonderful. How much more is the road going to be built up? Because we couldn’t open our (car) doors,” Powers said, of her parking experience in front of Sandy’s Flight Deck.

Selectman Rick Paraschak said the road project did require more paving to be completed, and Route 302 would be built almost two inches higher.

Selectman Bob Caron Sr. jokingly advised Powers to get a truck so the doors cleared the curbs near the library.

Naples Town Manager Derik Goodine said the point was probably moot. The more important issue was the changeover of available parking spaces in Naples.

If the eight-inch distance between the curb and the road does not deter motorists from parking on the main drag in front of the town library, then, the fact there is no designated parking there might discourage parking there.

“We actually have no parking on Route 302 in front of the library,” Goodine said.

Already, parallel parking spaces in front of Freedom Café have been downsized and eliminated through striping changes and installation of crosswalks, he said. In addition, Route 302 was widened when it was rebuilt and paved, and that made parking options even more cramped, he said.

“Unfortunately, when you put in crosswalks you lose parking. But, we will offer more parking” on and near the Causeway, he said.

During the recent meeting, Chairman Powers said the town wasn’t singling out any one business when it did away with parking in that area.

“This wasn’t a call against Freedom Café and their business,” Chairman Powers said, adding the decision was a public safety one.

Selectman Paraschak suggested putting up “No Parking” signs in addition to striping “so people don’t park there in the ‘pinch point.’ ”

The signs would reinforce the need for people to shift their parking habits elsewhere, he said.

Town officials referred to the pinch point as a spot where oncoming traffic has reduced line-of-sight because of parked vehicles, and drivers have a difficult time exiting and entering their parked vehicles as well as pulling onto Route 302.

On Tuesday, from the library parking lot, Powers said, “This is a huge safety issue.”

“During the summer, when there are cars parked along 302, I literally have to stop at the top of the hill (of the library parking lot) to see what is coming from the west. Sometimes there are trucks with trailers parked in my view,” she said. “When, I finally pull out, I hope there wasn’t a motorcycle I didn’t see.”

She stressed that town officials were conscientious of providing parking spots to offset the ones that have disappeared.

“It is important to know: There will be a net gain of parking spots when it’s all said and done,” Powers said.

And, Powers won’t have to trade in her economical ride for something with more clearance since the issue of too-tall curbs will be resolved in spring 2012.

A Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) official confirmed that the paving will be done this spring to increase the height of Route 302 as it runs from Freedom Café to the Town Cemetery.

“Another 1 1/2-inches of surface this spring” will be added to the road, according to MDOT’s Craig Hurd, the resident engineer for the Bay of Naples Bridge and Causeway project.

Subcontractor R.J. Grondin & Sons did the curb work earlier this fall, he said.

According to Hurd, the only curb work that hasn’t been finished will require specially ordered curved curbs. Those curbs will be put in place at the Causeway crosswalk this spring, he said.

However, during the remainder of the year, the surface paving of private and business driveways in the construction zone off Route 302 likely will take place.

“It would be a good idea to button it up from crosswalk to crosswalk,” Hurd said.

Hurd said surface paving that could start as early as this week will save crews from trying to fit paving projects into springtime work, and cut down on phone calls from residents living on those private driveways and business owners readying for the tourist season.

The impending paving jobs won’t affect traffic, he said, because none of the work will be taking place directly on Route 302.

Subcontractor Rampart Bituminous Inc., LLC, will do the paving work.

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