BIDDEFORD — On Tuesday, the Biddeford City Council will vote on whether to add a third handicap parking spot in front of the Biddeford District Courthouse, addressing access concerns that have been raised by residents.

Resident Laura Seaver, who has multiple sclerosis and often uses a cane, said the lack of disability parking at the Adams Street courthouse has been a problem for her. As an employee of the Department of Health and Human Services, she said she regularly accompanies people to court who need disability parking.

“I use it myself, and so do many of my clients,” said Seaver.

Because of the lack of such parking, said Seaver, many times she is forced to park behind the courthouse on Washington Street in a timed spot.

This is problematic for two reasons, she said. First, lengthy court proceedings may go past the allowed time. In addition, there is no handicap accessibility in the back of the courthouse, so she and others with disabilities must walk all the way around the building.

Currently, there are two handicap-accessible spots that allow only those with disability license plates or placards to park there at any time.

On June 3, the council gave initial approval to add another handicap-accessible spot in front of the courthouse.

If approved on Tuesday, the measure would not only add a third spot, it would also reserve all three spaces for disability parking only during court hours, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and only on days that the district court is open to the public for regular business.

“There is no need for handicap spots in front of the court other than when court is in session,” said Police Chief Roger Beaupre who drafted the ordinance amendment.

Reserving the spots for disability parking only during court hours “makes complete sense,” agreed Seaver.

Initially, Beaupre had recommended adding two more handicap-accessible spots, which would have brought the total to four.

Some councilors supported that position.

“During court days,” three is not going to be enough, said Councilor Michael Ready.

However, after receiving some opposition, Beaupre scaled back the measure to add only a single space.

“I would have liked to have seen two more” spots, said Seaver.

“I hope they watch the need,” she said, and add more if necessary.

Some had favored granting final passage to the measure as an emergency, which would have enacted the measure immediately.

That was rejected.

Lack of disability parking has “been going on for decades,” said Councilor Marc Lessard. “I don’t see it as an emergency.”

— Staff Writer Dina Mendros can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 324 or [email protected]

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