In early May of 2019, the City of Gardiner approached the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments with a request to conduct a downtown parking study. Increased retail activity and potential residential development on Water Street, combined with the renovations to Johnson Hall, has prompted city officials to look into the potential shortcomings in their parking infrastructure.
Gardiner, located just 6 miles from downtown Augusta, has seen growing use of, and demand for, its public parking. Due to recent turnover in local positions, Gardiner currently finds itself unable to evaluate their current parking infrastructure and whether or not it will impact and deter both commercial and residential growth.
Gardiner last conducted a parking study in 1999. The analysis concluded that Water Street, between Bridge Street and Maine Avenue was properly served while Water Street on the library block was underserved. According to Maine DOT’s most recent count, AADT on Water Street, just east of Bridge Street is 2,070. While that is a significant drop from 2001’s 2,940 AADT, the number doesn’t paint a definitive picture of Gardiner’s current parking demands.
Although average traffic has decreased since the last study, local officials have indicated that the demand for parking along Water Street and throughout downtown Gardiner has increased in recent years due to the reestablishment of local businesses. Additionally, proposed residential development, the renovation and re-opening of Johnson Hall (a 400+ seat performing arts center on Water Street) and increased use of the town landing and riverfront park will also exacerbate current parking restraints. Local policies, like the prohibition of overnight parking in public spaces on Water Street, also act as potential barriers to development and need further consideration.
This parking study is the result of a collaborative effort between KVCOG, the Maine Department of Transportation, the City of Gardiner, and public and private stakeholders.
Parking in downtown Gardiner largely functions as a municipal parking system where local employees, merchants and customers park in municipal lots or in on-street spaces. The principal parking locations are along Water Street and the Arcade Lot. Water Street provides direct access to many of Gardiner’s shops, businesses and offices, while the Arcade Lot provides an open, centralized parking location in close proximity to many of Gardiner’s amenities.
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