HARWICH PORT — While village businesses, the chamber of commerce and town officials are looking for more parking, steps were taken last week to limit parking in the name of public safety.
Police Department Lt. Kevin Considine was before selectmen last Tuesday seeking approval for no parking zones in the village. The restricted parking areas being sought were along Cross Street and at the rear access and egress of Schoolhouse Parking Lot leading to Pleasant Street.
Two weeks ago, The Chronicle ran a story in which the chamber of commerce and local businesses called for more parking in Harwich Port and expansion of parking spaces in Schoolhouse Parking Lot through the use of a wooded lot to the rear and adjacent to the driveway connecting to Pleasant Street. The town also relined the municipal lot increasing the number of spaces by 17.
Considine said he understands there have been issues with parking in Harwich Port over the past few years, but he added that last summer there were some major concerns with parking in spots that create hazardous situations. The intersection of Cross Street and Route 28 were especially problematic. He said town regulations prohibit parking within 20 feet of intersecting ways.
“This road in particular has an issue of safety,” Considine said.
Last summer, Considine said the road was used almost every day for beach parking and vehicles were blocking the sidewalk along Route 28. With the prohibition in place, Considine said he was asking the board to install two signs reading “No Parking Here To Corner” which will give his department the ability to enforce the regulations.
Considine said he has spoken to the owner of George's Pizza, the abutting business on the west side, and to Michael Ulrich, who is the chamber of commerce president who owns Cape Associates, a real estate business on the east corner. He also spoke to Cyndi Williams, executive director of the chamber, about the proposal.
Considine said he recently was contacted by Rebecca Arensfeld, who owns a business on the west side of Cross Street behind George's Pizza, who stated that during the summer, beachgoers and other people park along the street all day, blocking driveways and causing other problems. He said Arensfeld has requested the parking spots in front of her store be marked and posted for a two-hour parking limit to alert people that there is a businesses there.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael MacAskill said the line designation would be similar to those on Main Street in Harwich Center, and it will also help define where to park, so vehicles are not blocking driveways.
Considine pointed out the board of selectmen in 1972 approved a regulation prohibiting parking for 109 feet along the west side of Cross Street. There is no plan to go back to that and lose more parking, he said.
Selectman Ed McManus wanted to know if parking regulations need to be amended. Considine said he did not find documentation of removal of the 109 feet provision away.
Town Administrator Christopher Clark said there is a state statute requiring a map that shows proposed parking changes before the board acts. He said the provision prohibiting parking 20 feet from the intersection is already on the books and can be enforced.
Regarding the Schoolhouse Parking Lot proposal, Considine said the entrance off Pleasant Street is narrow and every day of the week during the summer it us used for beach parking and at night during events such as Port Summer Nights. With vehicles parked on both sides, fire trucks and even police sedans cannot get by. He said even if another 50 parking spaces are added in the wooded area to the east, it will not reducing parking along that stretch.
Clark said it could take another year before the mapping can be done to put in place regulations prohibiting parking along the stretch leading into the municipal parking lot from Pleasant Street. Clark suggested certain locations be limited to two-hour parking allowing turnover to help businesses.
Williams also said the chamber of commerce would not be encouraging people use the Schoolhouse lot this year for beach parking.
McManus also suggested when the Saquatucket Harbor project is completed there is the potential to use the Bank Street maintenance building site for parking with a shuttle to the village.
Selectman Donald Howell offered a motion to advertise a public hearing to act on regulations relating to parking on Cross Street and at the north driveway in Schoolhouse Parking lot, though it was agreed that temporary no parking signs could be installed. Regulations are in place and permanent no parking signs could be put in place for the first 20 feet on each side of Cross Street.
MacAskill wanted to know if the board could issue temporary parking restrictions.
Considine wanted to know if the orange temporary police department signs would serve the purpose. Howell said there have been so many signs that have been used there and people will not abide by them. He recommended the use of permanent signs to deliver the message for temporary restriction.