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Hearing May 6 on pay/display parking for Fort Williams Park

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on May 6, 2019 on a proposal to charge fees for passenger vehicles to park at Fort Williams Park.

The council set the hearing at their meeting April 8. Also on April 8, councilors acted on several components of the parking-fee proposal:

  • Approved amendments to the traffic ordinance allowing fees for parking at Fort Williams Park
  • Referred further traffic-ordinance amendments on enforcement of parking fees to the council's ordinance subcommittee.
    • The amendments have yet to be drafted, but would update the section on penalties to enable enforcement by Unified Parking Partners, the firm the town is considering to implement the program.
  • Referred a policy governing use of parking-fee revenue to a workshop to be held April 25.
    • The draft policy says fees will be used primarily to offset operational expenses of Fort Williams Park; long-term capital needs of the town; and, general municipal operating expenses.

The May 6 hearing marks the final step before the council decides whether to charge for parking at the park. A vote on the proposal is slated for May 13.

Here are the highlights of the parking program: [download town manager's synopsis]

  • Fees collected May 1-Nov. 1 only
  • Ten meters would be installed in five premium areas of the park, covering 270 parking spaces
  • Areas for free parking to the rear of the park (Playground, Children's Garden, Officers Row areas)
  • Non-residents would pay:
    • $2 with a minimum of 2 hours ($4 minimum per visit).
    • $10 full day
    • $15 seasonal pass
  • Cape Elizabeth residents would park for free with a pass available at the police department

The hearing on parking fees will be held the same night as the public hearing on the proposed combined municipal budget for 2019-20. The budget includes $300,000 anticipated revenue from Fort Williams Park parking fees. The proposal from Unified Parking Partners, the only firm to bid on implementing pay/display parking, predicts annual revenue for the town of nearly $317,000.

The May hearing and vote marks the culmination of more than a year of workshops and committee work, including fact-finding by the Fort Williams Park Committee and supporting ordinance updates. Discussion of pay/display parking often coincided with decisions on fees for commercial vehicles visting the park and lighthouse.

The Town Council last voted to implement parking fees at the park in 2010, but reversed their vote following a townwide, advisory referendum [News Article]. Parking fees were also considered and rejected by the council in 2003; and twice in 2006, the second time after a townwide referendum [News Article]