Record snowfall, coupled with frigid temperatures, means much of the snow has stayed put, causing parking headaches for downtown businesses. Worse, more snow is in the forecast this week.

Massive snow banks are eating up public parking spaces, resulting in a serious space crunch downtown. On Tuesday, two cars in the Edwards Block parking lot formed a line along a snow bank, effectively blocking in a row of cars in the lot.

On the other side of Main Street, Martini Lane Discount Beverage owner Cindy Lane said they’ve lost business because of the snow situation.

“People circle around four or five times before they find a place,” she said. “When they do, it’s somewhere that hasn’t been plowed out.”

Lane said many residents use the lots behind Martini Lane and CVS as overnight parking, but some cars haven’t been moved for days, creating places where city plow trucks have to move snow around them.

“It’s been a nightmare as far as people trying to get in,” she said. “It’s frustrating for customers.”

More than one customer has also told her that commuters have been parking in the nearby lots and taking the bus into Portland, hoping to avoid similar parking issues in the Old Port.

Lane said, however, that she knows it’s not an issue specific to Westbrook.

“They’re doing what they can, I know,” she said.

The snow is causing headaches for Westbrook Public Services, too.

Tom Eldridge, the director, said that his crew hasn’t had time in between storms to conduct much snow removal, if at all.

Eldridge said he’s only heard of one specific complaint regarding parking, which his crew dealt with on lower Main Street near Tom & Jerry’s.

“As far as the downtown area, I really haven’t heard anything,” he said, adding that each storm is beginning to blend into the next. He said the current forecasts are calling for anywhere from 5-8 inches this week, Wednesday into Thursday.

Eldridge said that about a week ago, crews removed snow from the Church Street parking lot, and the lot between Bank of America and TD Bank on Main Street, piling it behind the buildings along the riverwalk. These lots host daytime parking for employees and customers of many local businesses, as well as the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church.

Eldridge said they have yet to remove snow from the CVS lot, which would include the Martini Lane parking, but are hoping to get to it.

“We’ve hauled a fair amount of snow, but with storms coming every two or three days, we haven’t been able to do an extensive snow removal program like we typically do following storms,” he said.

CVS Pharmacy Manager Phil Gray said he’s heard some general complaints from customers about the amount of snow, with no place to put it.

“It’s just a heavy winter for everybody,” he said.

James Tranchemontagne, the owner of the Frog & Turtle restaurant on Bridge Street, said Wednesday that he hasn’t seen much of a parking issue through the storms, and that public services has done a great job given the circumstances. However, he said, things could be improved with signage.

“My concern with parking is there is a misconception that we don’t have a lot of it. That is very untrue,” he said. “The problem is there is no signage to direct people where to park.”

Eldridge said he’s “never seen anything like it,” with the cold temperatures keeping all the snow intact.

“It’s been difficult,” Eldridge said, about the barrage of storms. “If we ever get a break here, we’ll be back at it as quick as we can.”

Unplowed snow from the latest storm sits in between rows of cars outside CVS. Next door, Martini Lane owner Cindy Lane said the parking situation has affected business.Staff photo by Andrew Rice


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