November 14, 2012

Business group not in favor of Gorham's parking plan

Members say proposed lots are on the wrong side of Main Street and suggest that walking is a bigger issue.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

GORHAM – Two house lots recently purchased by the town won't solve the parking problems in Gorham Village, members of the Gorham Economic Development Corp. said at a meeting Wednesday morning.

The Town Council asked the corporation to look into parking issues around the intersection of routes 25 and 114, after approving the purchase of nearby lots in July.

The town bought the properties at 21 Main St. and 10 Preble St. for about $410,000 with an eye toward demolishing the houses and building parking lots.

But comments at a public forum last month and results of an online survey indicated that walking is a bigger problem in Gorham Village than parking, officials said Wednesday.

"I think people are scared to death to cross that intersection," said Kathy Garrard, a member of the Gorham Economic Development Corp.

Of the 76 respondents to the online survey, half said the current parking meets the needs of the village. Three-quarters said pedestrian safety is an issue.

Garrard suggested the group recommend that the Town Council work with the Department of Transportation on ways to make the intersection easier to cross and to add more signs indicating where people can park in the village.

"The solution to tear down two buildings and provide parking didn't seem to be the thing to do," she said.

Thomas Ellsworth, director of the corporation, said if Cross Street was turned into a one-way street, more parking spaces could be added. Then the spaces would be on the north side of the intersection, where people have indicated there is a need for more spaces.

"It came up as an idea, and I heard a lot of positive response," he said.

The two house lots are on the south side of the intersection. Ellsworth said people won't park there and go to businesses across the street, such as Thatcher's Restaurant & Pub or the Dance Studio of Maine.

"I got the general sense that these locations were not the best solution to the parking problem," he said.

The corporation supported presenting the recommendations suggested by Garrard to the Town Council on Dec. 4.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at

lbridgers@pressherald.com

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