PORTLAND — Parking tickets might soon sprout like spring flowers on the streets around the University of New England’s Portland campus.

City officials this week approved enforcement of a two-hour parking limit along Stevens Avenue and in Evergreen Cemetery, to crack down on students and faculty members who park there instead of using spaces the college has leased in nearby lots.

Residents have complained about students taking on-street parking and about the cars parked on Evergreen Cemetery’s narrow roads.

Michael Bobinsky, Portland’s director of public services, said some roads through the cemetery are essentially blocked because students and teachers park on both sides, a problem that’s exacerbated by snowbanks.

Some of their vehicles have been locked in the cemetery at night, he said, because the gates close at dusk.

The city has had most of Stevens Avenue and the cemetery roads near UNE posted for two-hour parking for some time, Bobinsky said. But no tickets have been written because for the rule to be enforced, it must be part of the city’s “traffic schedule” — a sort of master list of parking rules and regulations.

The City Council added the two-hour limit to that schedule this week, clearing the way for city workers to write tickets.

Bobinsky said UNE officials have cooperated with the city’s efforts, but there’s only so much they can do to keep students and teachers from parking on Stevens Avenue, in the cemetery or on side streets.

UNE offers free Metro bus passes to students, encourages car-pooling, has leased spaces in two nearby lots, and randomly awards a bike to the owner of one of the cars in the lots, said Alan Thibeault, UNE’s director of campus planning.

Even with the inducements, the lots are usually only partially full because students opt to use closer on-street spaces or the cemetery.

“They’re parking in legal spaces, but it’s taking up space in the neighborhood,” Thibeault said.

The problem was exacerbated when UNE opened its College of Pharmacy building a couple of years ago, adding students. UNE also has its College of Health Sciences and its dental clinic in Portland. The rest of the school’s operations are on a seaside campus in Biddeford.

UNE wanted to build a parking lot on a field next to the new building, but Portland’s Planning Board said no because of neighbors’ concerns and the environmental impact.

The Deering Center Neighborhood Association opposed the parking lot, but UNE has been a cooperative institution in the area, said Naomi Mermin, president of the neighborhood group.

“Parking can be tight in the neighborhood,” Mermin said, but many residents don’t need on-street parking.

When it rejected the lot, the Planning Board told UNE to come back with a master parking plan. The deadline for that plan has been extended once, and the proposal is now due in February 2012.

The university is looking at its options and may again propose an on-campus lot, lease additional spaces, continue inducements to use the off-campus lots or public transportation, or move more students and classes to Biddeford, Thibeault said.

Bobinsky said he will take a look around the school in the coming weeks and decide whether additional parking restrictions are required on side streets, probably with the same time limit as for Stevens Avenue and the cemetery.

“The two-hour limit strikes me as pretty generous,” he said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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