As cars and trucks continue pouring off the ferries, Chilmark selectmen are hoping to provide some relief for drivers looking to park in Menemsha.
Selectman Warren Doty said at Tuesday’s meeting of the selectmen that visitors will soon benefit from free shuttle service between a parking lot on Tabor House Road and Menemsha harbor. The selectmen began working on a solution to the town’s parking shortage this winter.
To encourage drivers to use the shuttle service, rather than park along North Road, which enters Chilmark from the northeast, the selectmen agreed to close North Road to parking from 4 to 9 p.m. daily through the end of the summer.
Several signs will likely be placed at intervals along North Road, directing traffic to the new lot, which will have room for about 70 vehicles. Locations for the signs may include the entrance to the town landfill and the major intersections along North Road.
The signs will be installed as soon as possible, selectmen said, but enforcement of the evening parking ban will not begin until August 1.
Police chief Brian Cioffi, who offered comments at the meeting, said that without the signs, people would probably continue parking on North Road. He supported the new shuttle service and the signs as an alternative to that scenario.
“It is going to be I think a slow start in the beginning, but over the next couple of years it will probably start to take on, where people realize, hey, I want to go to Menemsha tonight, let’s just park up there and we’ll take the bus down.”
In addition to the signs, selectmen discussed the possibility of printing small cards with information about the service, and having traffic officers distribute them on car windshields. They also planned to advertise the service in local newspapers.
Mr. Doty said the parking lot is almost ready, with large rocks placed around the border and a new chain-link fence. He said a temporary fence was recently removed.
Additional parking spaces closer to the harbor may also open up this week. Selectman Jonathan Mayhew said he spoke several weeks ago with contractors for the Menemsha Coast Guard’s new boathouse, who told him there would be no construction vehicles parked on the West Dock after July 1.
“We did agree with them that their only parking would be on their concrete surface during construction, and that we have a shuttle parking lot, which they seem to like for their pickup trucks,” he said.
Chief Cioffi pointed out that two concrete barriers at the construction site could prevent the passage of a fire truck or ambulance, in which case they would need to be removed. Mr. Doty believed that six additional parking spaces could be freed up at the site.
The new signs were expected to arrive by the end of the week, but were not expected to be installed in time for the July Fourth weekend.
In other business on Tuesday, selectmen approved a budget for the Nabs Corner housing project and provided an update on issues surrounding Menemsha harbor, including the progress of new staff members, the completion of a new set of pilings, and repairs to the harbor master shack.
Selectmen approved the reappointment of 29 Chilmark police officers, including two volunteers along with special and backup officers from neighboring towns, and bid farewell to officer Elizabeth Hourihan, who recently accepted a full-time position at the Tisbury police department.