A new parking lot by the end of 2019 needs to be an “active priority” for Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum, the Alna Planning Board decided Monday.
The board set that condition and three others when it approved the nonprofit's next five-year plan, 3-0-1. Lynne Flaccus abstained. Asked afterward why, Flaccus explained she feels concerned about the environmental impact of work at Trout Brook including the bridge the museum plans to put there as it expands the track north to Head Tide. But she said she didn't want to vote against the museum's plan.
"They're doing their best," she said.
Flaccus asked museum officials to keep in touch with fisheries and wildlife staff. Other board members asked if she would like to add that as a condition. She declined. The board set a condition that the museum provide copies of all permits it gets from agencies.
The board's other conditions were to put permanent "no parking" signs on Cross Road's south side from Route 218 to Ron Wright's driveway by this July; and when reservations exceed parking spaces, the museum will hire the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office for parking enforcement and traffic control.
Resident Jeff Spinney, awaiting selectmen's appointment as a planning board alternate, suggested the condition involving the sheriff's office. In earlier talks and again Monday, members and museum representatives have expressed concern about vehicles parking on both sides and people walking in the road.
The museum's master mechanic Jason Lamontagne said the museum's temporary "no parking" signs for the March 31 Easter event, one of the biggest annual draws, were placed so close to one another, they did not stretch as far up the road as planned and the same problem ensued. He was crushed when he saw it, he told the board.
Museum officials said they have started using, and are still learning, the online ticket system aimed at paring walk-up numbers at major events. They said about 90 percent of the Easter event's attendees had reservations.
In another effort at crowd control, a second day was added to the 2017 Victorian Christmas, museum representatives added.
Following discussion on a time frame for the new parking lot to add to the museum’s approximately 80 spaces, past museum president Steve Zuppa asked the board to recognize the museum's due diligence. "Our basic tenet has been to do things right, not do things fast," Zuppa said.
In a public hearing earlier Monday night, resident Terry Ross said the parking situation near the museum is no worse than it is at the fire station or town office. Board members said other statements Ross began making were out of order because they were not about the proposed plan.
James Patten of the museum reviewed the plan including the expansion northward; a three-stall roundhouse for locomotives; behind it, a coal storage bin; a utilities building between the car shop and Percival House; and, to aid fire protection, a buried hydrant system.