Wednesday, May 22, 2013
SOUTH PORTLAND – Business owners in Knightville say they're happy to get another crack at convincing the City Council to retain angled parking spots along Ocean Street.
"We definitely appreciate the hearing," said Melissa Coriaty, who owns Verbena, a restaurant on Ocean Street. "Maybe this time they can come up with something that works."
The current plan -- to replace angled parking with parallel parking -- won't work, say Coriaty and other business owners along the street.
The city is in the midst of a $3 million project to separate storm drains and sewage lines, widen sidewalks and install high-efficiency street lights along much of Ocean Street.
As part of that project, the city has decided to get rid of the angled, pull-in parking spots in front of stores on the west side of the street and replace them with parallel parking.
The change will leave fewer spaces, business owners say, and turn off many customers who don't want to parallel park.
Tanya Grace, the manager of Amy Alward Insurance, said she's happy that the council will take another look when it meets Monday, but she noted that the council has had the issue in front of it since early this year.
"I think every time they come to a decision, they change it again," she said.
Brian Allen, who owns the Lamp Repair Shop, said making shopping difficult for customers makes it that much harder for a small business to survive in a tough economy with plenty of competition.
"To ask people to come down here on a really busy day and then ask them to parallel park is crazy," he said. "People 65 and older -- do you think they'll parallel park? I don't think so. I think that will be a big challenge for people."
Allen said most of the customers who go to stores in Knightville make quick stops. That's why angled parking has worked so well, he said -- shoppers can pull in right in front of a store, run in and out and be on their way.
Parallel parking is more of a hassle and it's less safe, Allen said, because drivers have to stop, back up against traffic and then maneuver into a space.
Rachel Harriman's spa and salon, The Estuary, is across Ocean Street from Allen's, Grace's and Coriaty's businesses. The redesign would actually give her business a few more spots out front because the plan calls for adding a few parallel spaces on the east side of the street, where there's now no parking.
But she, too, thinks the plan is a bad idea, largely because the businesspeople across the street think so.
"We're in it together, so if they're really upset about it, it becomes important," Harriman said. "We thrive together. It's better if they do well."
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: