WELLS — The town is going back to the ol’ drawing board in its attempts to resolve traffic and parking concerns at local beaches.

During the Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday, July 2, the board voted unanimously to accept a resolution calling for the town to temporarily stay any and all application or enforcement of amendments that they made to Chapter 212: Vehicles and Traffic of the Wells Town Code on June 18.

The selectmen took up the vote after hearing numerous concerns and complaints, following the board's June 18 decision, from residents who are affected by the town’s traffic and parking woes, most notably in the areas of Drakes Island and Webhannet Drive.

The amendments approved on June 18 called for one handicapped parking spot and one 15-minute “unloading” spot in the parking lot at the intersection of Drakes Island Road and Beach Island Road, with the rest of the spaces there to allow parking for 30 minutes. As well, the amendment stated that the lot would be intended for passenger vehicles only. Also, on Mile Road, the June 18 amendments called for one-hour parking on both sides, between Webhannet Drive and Church Street. As well, the amendments stipulated a two-hour parking limit between Central Maine Power poles 27 and 39 on Webhannet Drive between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The amendments also eliminated 15-minute parking from Ocean Avenue. Lastly, as a result of the amendments, parking tickets were to be increased from $35 to $50 and from $70 to $100.

The stay, which does not have a timetable, will give town officials, residents and others an opportunity to work together — in large part through a committee that will be formed — to resolve the issues as best as they can.

“I’ve learned after nine years on this board, that we’re certainly never going to make everybody happy all of the time, but I think this here, giving it a stay, gives us some time to research, resolve some issues, get additional feedback from folks, and then put forth a plan that most, unfortunately not all, will probably, hopefully, agree with,” Selectmen Chairman Karl Ekstedt said at last week’s meeting.

At the start of that meeting, Ekstedt launched right into the issue, even though it had only been scheduled for discussion later in the selectmen’s agenda for the evening. Several residents were in the audience, more so than had previously turned out when the selectmen held hearings and discussions about beach parking and traffic throughout this year.

Ekstedt began his remarks by referring to those hearings, as well as other efforts the selectmen made to give the issue due diligence before making their decision to amend the town’s code.

“I’m hopeful that all of you came here tonight with the understanding that, occasionally, we have public hearings,” he said. “We meet, and we have one or two people show up. We get all our information, and make decisions based upon that, assuming for the fact that we’ve taken into consideration everything that we’ve been told.”

Ekstedt read a letter written by the town attorney, outlining the steps recommended for the selectmen to take and reasons for taking them.

After the vote to stay, residents spoke on the issue during the portion of the meeting opened for public comments.

Howard Hall, a summer resident of Wells who lives in Florida, spoke first. He called for a greater police presence and stronger law enforcement on Drakes Island, in order to curb such traffic violations as loading and unloading, the practice of idling in traffic while passengers unpack their cars and head to the beach with their things, or vice versa.

“People on Drakes Island are welcoming to people who want to go to the beach, but they are also demanding that these people follow the rules,” Hall said. “There should be no unloading from the entry to the parking lot down to the beach. Period.”

Hall said the town needs to spend more money on enforcement. He said signs telling beachgoers not to load and unload without parking are ineffective.

“You can put up all the signs you want,” Hall said. “Nobody reads them. Nobody cares . . . We need police officers down there who will do their job.”

Hall offered to pay for security down at Drakes Island himself and asked if the hired hands could be deputized to act in a police capacity.

“I think there probably would be a problem with that,” Ekstedt told Hall.

Police Chief Jo-Ann Putnam later took the podium and agreed.

“We cannot deputize,” she said.

Another seasonal resident, Nancy Owens, is in a wheelchair and expressed appreciation for the handicapped parking spaces available on Drakes Island. She noted that there used to be more spaces on the site, and she stated a hope for more law enforcement to present non-disabled individuals from parking in handicapped-designated spaces.

“Because of those spaces there, I can sit in my car and watch the water and open my windows and feel the breeze,” Owens said. “It’s the only way most of the time I get to the beach. . . It makes my life much better. Thank you.”

Other residents called for increased and more attentive law enforcement, as well. Some shared concerns about motorists disregarding stop signs or driving too fast and putting children who are playing at risk.

One resident said she lives two houses down from the Grove’s parking lot and has a porch that provides a front-row seat to “all of the craziness on the Fourth of July.” She invited the selectmen to sit with her on her porch on the Fourth, which was then just two days away, and see the traffic and parking problems for themselves. Newly elected Selectman John McLeod III took her up on her offer, saying he wished to become informed about the issue.

Several residents thanked the selectmen for staying their amendments. A few offered to serve on the committee that the town will form to explore the problems and recommend solutions for the selectmen to consider. A couple even offered to be point people and alert their neighbors about upcoming meetings and other developments related to the matter.

In response to one resident, Ekstedt said that resolutions will not be soon in coming, as government often moves slowly and the committee will need time to complete its work and to make sure all voices are heard. The committee, he suggested, is the town’s acknowledgement that a wider-ranging and more inclusive approach to the beach traffic and parking woes is needed.

“The answers that we put forth were not acceptable to the general rank and file,” Ekstedt said, referring to the June 18 amendments. “We’re sympathetic to that."