A group of Rockport residents is not happy about plans to create 14 parking spaces in the Memorial Park across Limerock Street from the site where the new town library is to be built.

In a letter to the editor, signed by about 50 people, the group complains about plans to turn part of the park into parking spaces, increasing the amount of asphalt on Limerock Street. They also oppose plans to remove trees from the park.

The group wants to turn Limerock Street into a one-way street with parallel parking to spare more of the park.

Selectman Douglas Cole responded with a letter to the editor March 6, saying in part, "I do think that the fairest course of action is to take the current plan as designed by the engineers and present it for an up or down vote by the town citizens in June. If the plan passes, it moves ahead. If it is defeated, because the parking will be the last item in the project to be completed in the fall of 2020, there will be plenty of time to draw up and engineer a second plan with a minimal cost incurred."

The Select Board will discuss whether to put the issue on the town meeting warrant during its March 25 meeting. It will also provide a presentation on the parking issue, alternatives that were considered and how members of the public can express their preferences moving forward, Town Manager Rick Bates said.

"The fact that they [the parking spaces] are perpendicular has a lot less to do with the two-way traffic and everything to do with maximizing the number and quality of the spaces," Bates said in an email. "By going perpendicular we get three – four additional spaces in the same space. In addition, because of the grade of the road, [Gartley & Dorsky] was able to make them more level when they are perpendicular rather than on an angle. The more level the parking space, the better the space when it comes to opening doors, people with children and those with restricted mobility issues."

Construction of the new $3.5 million library is expected to start in late April, with the target for opening June 2020. The current debate should not affect plans for the new two-story building, which are already set.

The funding approved so far for the library project does not include parking, sidewalks and intersection improvements, and Bates has said previously the town is likely to receive a grant covering 50 percent of that work from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Planned improvements to parking on Limerock Street are 100 percent the town's responsibility.

The Rockport Library Foundation has raised about $1.45 million toward its $2 million goal.