John Soucy, longtime owner of Carlisle’s Apparel and Footwear, weighs in on the parking situation in downtown Rumford. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — A second hearing on a proposal for diagonal parking along one side of Congress Street is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in the Town Hall auditorium.

Although none of 10 speakers at last week’s hearing favored the plan, which is meant to increase the number of parking spaces, all agreed something needs to be done.

Congress Street is one-way with two lanes of traffic and parallel parking on both sides.  If one side was diagonal parking, one traffic lane would likely be eliminated.

Town Manager Stacy Carter told selectmen last month that he wanted input before the final paving and the parking lines are done this year during the $7 million sewer and waterline reconstruction on The Island business district.

“This is only a proposal for input to provide additional parking,” he told those at the first hearing May 16. “This has not been approved but is very worthwhile to consider before we have the street painted for parking. There are definite pros and cons to the change.”

Gary Dolloff, director of the Greater Rumford Community Center at 50 Congress St., said he’s concerned about people backing into the street and children to coming out of the center looking for their parents to pick them up.

Pastor Justin Thacker of Praise Assembly of God Church at 89 Congress St. said he supports adding parking spaces but is concerned what one lane of traffic would mean with diagonal parking.

“We have all the unloading, and UPS and Fedex, and what about the fire department and emergency calls?” he asked. He said he’s encouraging his employees to park on River Street to leave spaces open in front of the church.

John Bartash of Bartash Cards & Gifts at 94 Congress St. said diagonal parking was considered once before. “There wasn’t room enough,” he said.

Some 15 years ago, the town had a meter maid to enforce two-hour parking, which he said was “the best thing that ever happened.”

Bartash said he favors enforcing two-hour parking downtown.

However, Kris Howes of Ink Maine at 58 Congress St. said he’s against having a meter maid. He said the focus should be on vehicles parked in the same spot on Congress Street all day “when there are other lots available that people can use.”

John Soucy of Carlisle’s on 92 Congress St. said enforcing time limits on parking would result in the additional spaces the town is seeking.

Resident Tony DeSalle said although parking enforcement is good to a point, it can also discourage people from coming onto The Island. He said he supports a parking garage.

Carter said assuring enough parking for businesses would require voluntary compliance with a two-hour limit and assistance from the business community.

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