Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum knows it has a parking problem and is working to address it, a representative of the Cross Road nonprofit told the Alna Planning Board Monday night.
The issue came up as the board and Jason Lamontagne reviewed the museum’s proposed next five-year plan. The plan faces a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 2 at the fire station.
The museum spent several thousand dollars on a traffic study that yielded suggestions Lamontagne said ranged from a silly one to others that were on point. The silly one was the traffic engineer’s idea for a sidewalk on Cross Road, he said.
Maine Traffic Resources of Gardiner found no traffic concerns through 2022 for the nearby Cross Road-Route 218 intersection; and the sight distance coming out of the museum’s three drives is better than the recommended minimum, according to the firm’s report. However, cars parked near the parking lot exit during the 2017 Victorian Christmas event obstructed sight distance, it notes.
“Parking attendants often directed vehicles out of the lot but were not always available,” the report states about the event, one of the museum’s biggest annual draws. The report states the museum did a good job limiting parking to one side of the road in appropriate locations. The firm recommends the museum discourage motorists from turning around in private driveways, and put up signs warning motorists of pedestrians ahead.
Board member Jim Amaral said he lives near there and has seen Cross Road at busy times for the museum. “Between parents and kids running around, it’s pretty chaotic.”
Lamontagne said the museum is looking at spreading out its volunteers more, adding to its parking and making its Easter and Victorian Christmas rides available by online reservation only, removing the walkup option he said can cause crowding.
Board member Peter Tischbein said the board could put conditions on approval such as signage or a certain number of volunteers working parking. After Lamontagne requested flexibility, Tischbein said the language could instead call for “appropriate management” and state the board can revisit the matter if the town gets complaints.
Lamontagne did not object. “There’s not going to be a smoking gun solution to the problem,” Lamontagne told the board. “We recognize there’s a problem ... and we’re working hard at it.”
He agreed to turn in revised documents ahead of a March 12 board meeting.
Also Monday, the board approved resident Linda Thornton’s request for a business permit for BellaUmbrella LLC, doing business as Grumpy Toad Soap Company at 877 Head Tide Hill Road. Soap will be made but not sold there, Thornton told the board. Plans call for online sales, she said. The board asked how she came up with the name. Thornton said it was a random idea. She was thinking of either owls or toads, and thought of happy toad and other possibilities, but grumpy toad stuck.
“People said they liked it, so it works,” she said, adding, the business will have a toad mascot.