BANGOR – Like their counterparts in Portland, Biddeford, Saco and Lewiston, residents of downtown Bangor this winter will be allowed to park their vehicles on the street overnight.
The catch is that those who use the privilege will have to stay on the alert for snow-clearing orders, during which they will have to find off-street parking spaces.
Those who fail to do so will be subject to ticketing, towing or both.
“I’ve never been one for enjoying towing cars,” Public Works Director Dana Wardwell said last week in an interview at City Hall.
“We’ll try to work with people the best we can,” he said.
During snow-clearing periods, downtown residents can park on the first level of the Hammond Street parking deck and in the section of the Pickering Square Parking Garage closest to the Kenduskeag Stream.
The move, approved by city councilors in March for a one-year trial period, is part of the city’s continuing effort to make downtown more convenient for those who live there. After that, the program will be revisited and either ended or extended.
The program will be the subject of a press conference at 10:30 a.m. today at City Hall.
The annual ban on overnight on-street parking, which runs from Nov. 1 through April 1, remains in effect for the rest of the city.
The downtown winter parking change was among the recommendations of the city’s downtown parking advisory committee, headed this year by City Councilor Geoffrey Gratwick.
The ability to park close to home during the winter is something downtown residents and landlords have sought for years.
“They brought it up,” Sally Bates, a city development officer who works closely with downtown businesses, said last week.
“If we are going to encourage people to live downtown, we need to make it convenient,” Bates said, noting that as many as 500 people now live downtown.
Not being able to park in front of their apartments has been a hardship for some, including the elderly and families with very young children.
Parking bans will be declared not only when precipitation is expected. They also could remain in effect for several days afterward to allow for cleanup. Parking bans also might be called during periods of clear weather, if ice accumulations in gutters require heavy equipment for removal.
When necessary, parking bans and the hours in which they will be in effect will be declared by Wardwell by noon of the day they are scheduled to begin.
Wardwell then will notify the city manager, city engineer and city police dispatchers.
Public notification of bans will include all of the following methods:
. Radio stations WABI, WYOU, WKIT, WZON, WEZQ, WHCF, WWMJ, WDEA, Kiss 94.5 and Q106.5.
. Television stations WABI, WLBZ and WVII.
. The city’s government cable access station, Channel 7 on Time-Warner (formerly Adelphia).
. The city’s Web site at www.bangormaine.gov, under Departments/Public Works/Winter Operations 2006-2007/Parking/Downtown Management District.
. E-mail notification, for those who call 992-4500 to be added to the notification list.
. Electronic message boards that will be placed on State Street at Norumbega Park and on Harlow Street near City Hall.
More information about winter parking is available by calling 992-4500 or visiting the city’s Web site.