The Biddeford City Council plans to hold a community meeting to discuss a parking management plan it voted on earlier this year. They will set the date on Thursday. DINA MENDROS/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — A portion of a parking plan to include charging to park in city-owned lots in Biddeford is on hold. It was scheduled to begin Nov. 1, but due to equipment delays, implementation of the plan will likely take place later in the month.

Though charging for parking is delayed, enforcement of on-street parking changes began Nov. 1.

The delay in shipping of parking kiosks is just one of the problems to plague the plan approved by City Council earlier this year. To address some of the public’s concerns and answer questions, the council will vote on Thursday to set a date for a community meeting about the city’s Parking Management Plan, or PMP.

Part of the impetus for the PMP is to help fund a proposed municipal parking garage. Revenue from parking in city lots could be used to fund a garage, to be located at the site of former Maine Energy Recovery Company waste to energy incinerator at 3 Lincoln St. City Council has yet to vote on whether to construct a parking structure.

Another reason for the PMP, Economic Development Director Mathew Eddy has said, is that without the plan property taxpayers fund public parking, but with the plan in place parking users pay the tab.

In addition, Eddy said, a parking garage and parking plan would benefit residents.

“Solving the parking challenge is expected to have a direct and tangible impact on growth in property tax valuation,” according to a draft of the PMP, which can be found on the city’s website at biddefordmaine.org.

Full development of space in the Mill District, adjacent to the downtown, will provide about $100 million in new value, or more, not including the redevelopment of the city-owned site at 3 Lincoln St., Eddy said.

“With limited impacts on services, this growth will be critical in order to continue to stabilize property taxes and meet future capital demands in the city,” the draft PMP states.

Not everyone agrees that the PMP is a good idea.

A complaint was filed by Biddeford resident Jason Litalien in York County Superior Court in Alfred last month “to permanently ban any and all parking programs that would require long-term users of parking in the downtown to pay for parking.”

The complaint states that a citizen’s referendum to ban parking meters in the downtown, passed in 2014, should prohibit the portion of the PMP that requires purchasing permits to park in city-owned lots located in the downtown.

City officials disagree with the plaintiff’s interpretation of the 2014 referendum.

According to a press release from the city, the PMP is consistent with the referendum because the plan does not charge for short-term, high-turnover, on-street parking on Main Street and other feeder streets into the city’s downtown and Mill District.

According to city staff, the PMP and garage are needed because there aren’t enough parking spaces in Biddeford’s downtown and Mill District to meet the current and projected demand.

The existing parking supply in the combined Mill District/downtown area includes 419 municipal parking lots spaces 1,705 private lot spaces and 765 on-street spaces — a total of 2,889 spaces.

With an existing demand for 4,200 parking spaces, there’s a deficit of 1,311. With full build-out in both the downtown and Mill District the supply remains the same but the demand increases to 5,122, and the deficit grows to 2,233. If 3 Lincoln St. is also developed — the city announced earlier this year that a development plan for the site is in the works — demand increases to 6,061 and the deficit to 3,127.

The parking kiosks are expected to arrive in mid-November, according to the city’s website. But there will be no charge for parking in city lots until December. Those who have paid for permits for November can either have funds refunded or apply the money to a permit for December.

Although parking charges have yet to begin, on Nov. 1 the city began enforcing posted time limits for parking on Main Street and downtown side streets. According to the city’s website, those in violation of new time limits may receive a warning for the first violation and will be ticketed for a second violation. Violators of longstanding parking time limits will be ticketed.

— Associate Editor Dina Mendros can be contacted at 780-9014 or [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: