A man pays for parking at a newly installed meter on Main Street last month in downtown Bar Harbor. After confusion mounted over the weekend over whether the town would enforce its new parking rules on July 4 holiday, the town council voted Monday to waive the rules for the holiday, which each year draws thousands of people to Bar Harbor. Credit: Bill Trotter|BDN

No hourly fees or permits will be required to park in downtown Bar Harbor on the Fourth of July.

After confusion arose in recent days over the town’s parking policy for the upcoming holiday, the Bar Harbor Town Council voted 6-1 Monday not to require hourly fees or parking permits in downtown Bar Harbor on the upcoming holiday. Councilor Stephen Coston was the lone dissenter.

The council met in a special session Monday night to iron out the confusion over the town’s new paid parking policy. In April, the council adopted a policy that waived only the permit requirement for the holiday but still would have required people to pay at metered spots or in public parking lots on July 4.

However, with the holiday approaching, several members of the council and some members of the town’s parking task force have been saying that the intent of those who helped draft the policy was to waive parking restrictions for the holiday, which is considered the busiest day of the year in Bar Harbor. Many thousands of people flood into downtown Bar Harbor every July 4 as the town hosts a parade, a community breakfast, evening fireworks and other events throughout the day.

Councilor Judie Noonan made an argument for waiving the town’s new parking requirements for Thursday’s holiday.

“You have people who set up their chairs [along the parade route] at 7:30 in the morning,” Noonan said. “It would be a nightmare to enforce it. I think one day [of free parking] is not going to kill our revenue.”

Other councilors said that the town has never enforced its parking rules on July 4, which in previous years consisted solely of time limits, and that they never intended to start doing so now with the new, stricter rules in place.

The confusion over parking rules for the holiday has been one of multiple hiccups in getting the new parking system up and running this summer.

The town pushed back the planned May 15 start date multiple times for when the rules would take effect in order to make changes to the pending policy, have more time to install meters and get the online permit application system working. Recognizing that it would take time to get the system running smoothly and for people to make the appropriate adjustments to their parking routines, the town has taken a lax enforcement approach so far this summer.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....