Rumford board hears concerns about Hancock Street parking issue

RUMFORD — Discussion continued Thursday night about possibly restricting parking along Hancock Street, but selectmen made no decision.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

During a discussion Thursday night about possibly restricting parking along Hancock Street between the high school and Lincoln Avenue, Rumford Selectman Jeff Sterling, left, shares an incident that happened to him while driving through the vehicles parked on either side of Hancock Street.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rumford apartment building owner Ed Ziko of Mexico tells Rumford selectmen Thursday night not to restrict parking along Hancock Street to one side only. Currently, there are no restrictions.

Instead, after hearing pros and cons from a few people and considering some suggestions, the board tabled the matter to their next meeting on Thursday, Nov. 17.

Because Hancock Street is Route 120, the board wants to hear from an official from the Maine Department of Transportation at that meeting.

At issue is the stretch from Lincoln Avenue to Mountain Valley High School, along which are apartments and residences and a new 18-apartment complex being built.

When there are certain school functions, overflow parking ends up along both sides of the street where apartment tenants and visitors also park.

Selectmen said they want to ask the MDOT official if it's possible to paint a breakdown lane on either side of the street, in which vehicles could park, or to move and repaint the centerline to provide a wider travel lane.

Board Chairman Greg Buccina broached the issue at the Oct. 20 meeting after people on Hancock Street told him that when vehicles park on both sides, drivers traveling between the vehicles cross the centerline to maneuver around them.

Hancock Street apartment owner Ed Ziko of Mexico, however, said there hasn't been an accident along the stretch due to parking on both sides since the school was built.

He suggested selectmen leave it alone.

“I see no reason for having parking on just one side of the street,” Ziko said. “It's never been a problem.”

Buccina argued otherwise, saying whenever drivers have to cross the centerline to maneuver around parked vehicles or to avoid hitting a door should someone open one suddenly, that's a safety and liability issue for the town.

“I understand that apartment buildings are there and it could be an inconvenience to people, but we're looking at it being safe,” Buccina said.

Selectman Jolene Lovejoy countered Ziko, saying the parking issue creates a problem for school buses driving simultaneously in either travel lane through the gauntlet of parked cars.

Police Chief Stacy Carter said that from Lincoln Avenue to Sagadahoc Street, there is ample room to park on both sides because Hancock Street is a foot wider than it is between Sagadahoc and Tasker streets.

He suggested restricting parking on either side between Sagadahoc and Tasker.

Selectman Jeff Sterling shared an incident that happened to him. He was behind vehicles traveling down a lane between parked cars and someone opened a door into traffic as school buses were driving along in the other lane.

“It's a one-in-a-million shot that someone will open a door, but it can happen,” Sterling said. “So, do you take a door off or hit a bus? That's a pretty lousy choice.”

He suggested moving the centerline to the left to create a wider lane in the spring.

Resident and businessman Eric Giroux suggested not restricting parking. He said only a few park on the left-hand side of the street.

“There are 14 residences on the street in that one area,” he said. “I've parked on the other side of the street for 10 years and never had a problem.”

Selectman Brad Adley, who asked if parking spaces or a breakdown lane should be painted along the street, suggested having the RSU 10 transportation director share insight from the perspective of school bus drivers at the Nov. 17 meeting.

Before tabling discussion, Buccina said the board should also officially invite Hancock Street residents to hear their side.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

8 feet is not enough

I went down to Hancock St today to check it out. I parked as would any reasonable person alongside the road in two places. I then paced out the distance from my tire to the center line. At the first stop it was 8 feet. On the second stop, I tried to get slightly closer to the curb, realizing that the average driver probably won't make that attempt. The distance was 9 1/2 feet. Given that the average vehicle is about 5 1/2 feet wide, that provides only 3 1/2 feet between the passing vehicle and the stopped vehicle if the passing vehicle is to remain on their own side of the road.

I like Jeff Sterling's suggestion. Between Sagadahoc and Tasker move the line; make the travel lane heading into town wide enough for traffic, but not for parking as it is on the Maine Ave to Lincoln Ave section. Then paint a white line indicating a parking lane on the other side with more than ample space for vehicles to pass by. Of course, since the road is technically a state highway, even though it is maintained by the town withing the compact limits, it would be wise to check with them before making any changes.

One person has asked me to assist them in collecting data to support leaving it as it is. I am open to discussion.

Tony Capola's picture

Hancock Street

Chief Carter needs to understand that the problematic area is from Lincoln to Tasker. I fail to see that a difference of 1-foot is enough to accommodate parking on both sides of the street. Parking on both sides of Hancock Street north of Lincoln Avenue should simply not be allowed… period.
Furthermore, parking close to a busy intersection should be restricted for safety reasons. Anyone trying to enter Hancock Street from Stafford Avenue knows how dangerous it can be. As you try to enter the sightlines are often blocked by vehicles parking to the north and south along Hancock.
This problem is made even more dangerous if you are trying to turn north from Stafford. Often there are pickup trucks or SUVs parking blocking anyone’s ability to see oncoming traffic especially from the north. This situation often requires the vehicle entering Hancock to advance up to and beyond the centerline before it possible to see if anyone is coming.
The ongoing speeding problem along Hancock Street makes this issue potentially tragic. If the police are not going to enforce the speed limit why have one.
With the exception of 7:30 AM and 2:30 PM, when school is in session, the police are rarely seen trying to enforce the speed limit. Speeding was always a problem but it’s much worse since the street was improved.
Two more comments… Mr. DiConzo still needs to proofread anything he submits. There is always a misspelled word or two and he should check the facts before making definitive comments.
Mr. Saisi seems to enjoy picking nits… In relation to the subject of the article what difference does it make if it’s new construction or restoration of an existing structure?

 's picture

18 Unit Complex

It would seem that the comment to which I replied has been deleted. I wasn't just making the statement out of thin air. As I don't recall the now absent statement, I cannot address my thinking in creating the reply.

I will say that any landlord needs to provide off-street parking for their tenants in the winter months if their units are to be attractive to potential renters. Relying upon street-side parking is irresponsible. If off-street parking is not available, either the unit remains empty, or the landlord needs to find a way to provide it. There are buildings in the area that could be purchased to be re-developed into additional parking. If the owner cannot afford to provide the parking, perhaps they have made a poor business decision in acquiring an 18 unit building in the first place.

Mr Capola

I comment to get points across. I rely on spell check for spelling. Excuse me if your perfect.

 's picture

18 Unit Complex

I believe the 18 unit complex is merely an old unit being restored, not a new structure being built.

Restored

This unit has been under restore how many times over the years. It should have been condenmed years ago. That's what we have Code Enforcement for. Winter is also around the corner. There should be no parking in the streets anyway. The only time parking seems to be a problem is during football games and the season is coming to a close and besides that no buses run at night. Why is this board creating a problem where there is none.

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