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Town to examine tenant parking in Market Square

HOULTON, Maine — Concerns over parking in Market Square have once again become a topic of conversation among town officials.

Town Councilor Sue Waite-York brought up the issue during a meeting on Monday evening. Waite-York said that she owns two buildings in the downtown and that several of her tenants have run into parking issues, especially in the winter.

“My tenants want to know why they can’t park overnight in the downtown in the winter,” she said during the meeting. “This is an ongoing bit of a problem. I thought we could get a group together to discuss options or come up with a place where they could park.”

Waite-York said that she has discussed the issue with Houlton Police Chief Tim DeLuca, but also sought further resolution on the matter.

The town has an overnight parking ban in the area in the winter so that the Public Works Department can plow and remove snow from the town’s streets.

Town Manager William MacDonald said that the ban was most necessary during the winter months and that the town was not really seeing parking pressures right now. He said that the town could really allow overnight parking during the summer season when the downtown was not clogged with snow.

He said he was open to a conversation about the downtown parking situation.

Waite-York said that if the town is going to encourage downtown living, they might have to consider a parking system for Market Square, such as parking permits for those living there or an adjacent parking area.

The topic of parking first surfaced in Jan. 2016, when the town’s former police chief said that he regularly received complaints about the parking situation. The chief told town councilors that it was not shoppers who were taking up most of the limited parking spaces in downtown Market Square but rather the employees and employers who own and work at the stores in the historic district. Downtown business owners had been complaining about losing sales, saying that shoppers were having a difficult time finding available parking spots near their stores.

A downtown parking subcommittee was formed to examine the issue.

Macdonald invited Waite-York to join them in the ongoing discussion.

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