Opinions sought on downtown Lewiston parking


LEWISTON — Fewer and fewer people are keeping loose change in their pockets, which does not bode well for revenue from parking meters that only accept quarters, dimes and nickels. 

That is one of the issues Lewiston officials hope a new downtown parking study and public meeting will address.

As many cities have moved to kiosk systems known as “multi-space pay stations” that accept credit cards, Lewiston still uses a combination of coin-operated meters and time-limited parking. 

When discussing the upcoming meeting on downtown parking with the City Council this week, City Administrator Ed Barrett joked, “People under 30 don’t carry quarters on them anymore.” 

On average, the city pays more for parking enforcement and upkeep than it receives in revenue. 

Late last year, the city issued a request for proposals for a downtown parking meter study to assess Lewiston’s current system and make recommendations to update and expand it. The recommendations could include new kiosk systems that issue parking receipts and meters on more city streets.


The city is inviting residents to a community meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, at City Hall to discuss parking options.

Barrett said a consulting firm has already been hired to do the work, and that the public meeting “is intended to offer folks with an interest in parking downtown to express their thoughts, concerns and suggestions to the consulting firm and the city.”

Barrett said Thursday that Lewiston’s current parking meters “are very old and must be replaced with newer meters, technology.”

“This need precipitated an interest in taking a comprehensive look at how we manage on-street parking and how it interfaces with our downtown off-street system,” he said.

“We wanted to have this meeting early in the process so that any information, ideas or comments provided could be taken into account before the consulting firm starts developing any specific recommendations.” 

According to the city’s request for proposals, about half of the 216 parking meters in Lewiston generate significant revenue.

Since the 1990s, the city has also removed more than 120 meters as part of redevelopment agreements.

“A preliminary analysis of the available on-street parking suggests up to 400 additional on-street parking spaces could be metered, further encouraging the use of the parking structures and increase parking revenue,” according to the city’s request for proposals.

Roads marked for potential metering include Lisbon, Main, Lincoln and Sabattus streets, and other connecting streets.

Over the past three years, Lewiston has averaged approximately $36,000 in revenue from parking meters. However, two part-time enforcement officers cost $35,500, and the Public Works Department’s maintenance expenses average $8,500 — for a total of $44,000 a year. 

The current meter fees are 50 cents an hour, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Compared to other cities, such as Portland, Lewiston’s meter fees are far cheaper. 

In Portland, meters cost $1.25 per hour and run Monday through Saturday until 6 p.m. 

In Lewiston, consultants have consistently recommended that storefront parking and “the most sought-after spaces should be priced higher than the public parking structures where customers would park then walk to their destinations.”  

The city has five parking garages that charge $1 per hour, with the first hour free.


Dan Culliton, an employee of Cale Parking Systems USA, installs a solar electronic parking meter in Portland in 2012. Similar options will be looked at in Lewiston, where officials will hold a public meeting March 21 on downtown parking. (Sun Journal file photo)

Auburn hosting pedestrian safety meeting

AUBURN — The Maine Department of Transportation is hosting a public meeting on safety improvements at various downtown intersections.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 21, at Auburn Hall — the same day as a public meeting in Lewiston on downtown parking. 

According to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, which is also involved, the meeting will discuss “operational and safety improvements” at the following intersections: Academy and High streets, Academy and Main streets, Elm and Main streets, Elm and High streets, Elm Street and Minot Avenue, and Minot Avenue and High Street.

The coalition says MaineDOT is “particularly interested” in learning local views on the projects’ consistency with local comprehensive plans, discovering local resources and identifying local concerns and issues.

“This is an opportunity to raise concerns, to bring ideas, and to promote the importance of making roads safe and comfortable for pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Angela King, community advocacy coordinator for the Bicycle Coalition.

“Roads are for everyone, whether they are walking, rolling, on a bike or in a car. As we have learned, having input at the initial design stages can make a real difference.”

  • Do away with the paid parking. Comparing us to Portland makes no sense. Lewiston doesn’t have the draw Portland does. Parking revenue and enforcement, according to the numbers given, is a net loss for the city. Make parking free, do away with the enforcement positions, and do a little better than break even. You might even encourage some downtown patronage in the process.

    • Danny Fitzsimmons

      to do away with enforcement would allow the abuse of people to horde these parking spaces all day and night, and as far as not paying for itself I think is bogus another line our officials will use to get what they want. If these machines work right and are actually LESS costly than what these officials claim. both in maintenance and enforcement, however will have THE SAME COST FOR ENFORCEMENT, it is just that they are well in one of these officials words “Portland has them” well if Portland decided to pave the roads with gold at the taxpayers expense would that mean that this city should too. if enforcement is costing too much for such a small area then either the machines are not working, or the meter maids are not working. Secondly they complain that people have less quarters, Well sorry ALL PEOPLE CAN GET those and MANY CANNOT GET CREDIT or DEBIT CARDS and of those many would not wish to use them on insecure means. which makes your idea totally wrong furthermore YOU FORGOT TO MENTION how much revenue the tickets bring in and IF THESE POLICE ARE DOING THEIR JOBS that would surely change the cost vs revenue, In the end they either just want to be like Portland or Augusta or New York after all it’s just taxpayer money, or well its campaign contributions or some other contributions driving this madness as is often times the case today.

      • DrLCT2

        The answers to the parking meter dilemma seems to be answered quite well just in reading the newspaper article. A little common sense and perhaps consulting with Portland to see how their multi-space meters are working out could eliminate the need for the consulting firm that Lewiston is considering paying. Why “reinvent the wheel” when others have already done so? I used Portland’s system for the first time when I attended the EL Girls & Boys Basketball Games recently at the Gross Arena and found them to be very convenient. In addition to credit or debit cards these meters also take coins which one can easily get at any of the banks nearby or at downtown businesses that don’t mind making change for you, especially since you’re probably in their area to do business with them or with other establishments anyway.

    • Scott Harriman

      The “parking revenue – enforcement expense = net loss” equation ignores the fact that parking fees and enforcement provide another benefit that is harder to measure in dollars: parking availability.

      Making parking free, with no enforcement, will result in very little turnover of spaces, which means that shoppers and other people visiting the downtown area will have a harder time finding parking. This will discourage, rather than encourage, downtown patronage.

  • gooodgravy

    We just transitioned to a mobile parking app here, not sure how it’ll work out yet, but it may be another option to consider..