2015-03-13 / Community

Popularity of pavilion poses parking problems

Growing use of Kennebunk’s new Waterhouse Pavilion, not to mention recent business openings, is changing the flow of traffic downtown, creating a shortage of parking.

“Everybody’s growing and that’s a good thing,” said Mathew Eddy, the town’s economic development director. “Now we have to come up with a solution.”

On March 5, the Kennebunk Downtown Committee met to hash over the parking problem, and other downtown issues.

“There is a deficit [of parking],” said town engineer Chris Osterrieder. “We know that in a vibrant downtown the need for parking will always be there.”

According to a press release issued by the local chamber of commerce, Osterrieder pegged the number of public spaces with time-limited parking now in downtown Kennebunk at 140. Another 404 spaces are privately owned. Of those, 117 are at the former Garden Street Market lot, which currently serves as an unofficial parking lot. If and when it is occupied, the new owners will have the right to reserve those spots in that lot for their own customers.

“At some point we need to stop pretending it’s available,” said Osterrieder.

The solution, many agreed, is to build a municipal parking lot, if not an actual parking garage, to serve the downtown area.

“As distasteful as a parking lot is, we need to do it, or we’ll be in a world of hurt,” said Selectman Albert Searles, in the audience for the meeting.

According to Town Manager Barry Tibbetts, the town could use funds available in a tax increment financing fund to facilitate construction.

“I don’t think we’re that far away from some solutions,” added Eddy.

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