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