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News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 28, 2014
Green Street parking restricted, route number change gets go-ahead from residents

Wide intersection leaves sad, lost welcome sign

With the widening of the northern intersection of Routes 166 and 166A, the “Welcome to Castine” sign has less visibility and impact, agree town officials and residents.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

An August 18 public hearing held by selectmen was brief, but the results will affect everyone who parks or drives on Green Street.

After comments from residents, selectmen voted unanimously to prohibit parking on the east side of Green Street to allow cars to travel side by side down the 24-foot-wide street.

Green Street runs between Water and Court streets, with granite curbs on both sides, a result of a successful citizen petition about a decade ago.

Ted Lameyer used the curb style as an example, in view of the upcoming redesign of several village streets, of how curbs on both sides of a street “significantly” limit parking and usability.

“Does Green Street set a precedent for what may happen on Perkins Street?” asked one resident.

“No,” replied Chair-man David Unger. “We’re taking these questions…one at a time.”

“Everyone thinks this is the selectmen’s plan. It’s the people’s plan, voted in at town meeting,” said Selectman Gus Basile, apparently referring to the larger questions surrounding the upcoming redesign of Main and other downtown streets.

In May, voters approved spending over $4 million to support infrastructure repairs and a streetscape redesign; the design plan itself was presented at an April 22 public hearing and was not itself voted on.

Lameyer also asked for the elimination of the curbs on Green Street to bring the street back to “the way the street has operated for 150 years,” where one driver pulls over to let a car traveling in the opposite direction pass. Another resident asked what problems the curb removal would cause.

“Thankfully that question is not on the agenda,” Unger remarked.

Barring the removal of the curbs, Lameyer said he supported amending the traffic ordinance to limit Green Street parking “as the only safe option.”

“It’s one thing to make the rule, it’s another to enforce it,” said Bob Friedlander, noting that a similar rule on Water Street is not followed. “People park there all the time.”

Basile pointed out that residents of Water Street are permitted to park on both sides of the street.

Town Manager Jimmy Goodson noted the hiring that day of Scott Vogell as parking enforcer, or “meter maid,” as several people referred to the position.

The second question presented to residents by selectmen was whether they approved a route number switch between 166A (The Shore Road) and 166 (Castine Road) proposed on August 7 by Pete Coughlan of the Maine Department of Transportation.

Residents had no objections, and favored the second of three options offered by Coughlan, which would also renumber Route 175, which begins off Routes 1 and 3 in Orland, to Route 166 up to where 175 turns west into Penobscot.

The goal of the route number changes is to provide a more practical numbering system. Castine Road, whether it’s called Route 166 or 166A, is the responsibility of the town, selectmen clarified. The Shore Road is a state road, and the DOT recently reconstructed the northern intersection of the two routes to create an obvious, main route into Castine, down The Shore Road.

The “Welcome to Castine” sign now looks “sad and lonely,” observed Lameyer.

Basile agreed. “[Maine DOT] has created a tar beach.”

He also reminded citizens that before changing the designation of Route 175, “the DOT will have to meet with Penobscot and Orland.”