Park­ing plan may re­new old de­bate

Ex-Demo­cratic mayor crit­i­cal of re­turn to park­ing lot fees

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Paul Kirby pkirby@free­manon­line.com paulat­free­man on Twit­ter

Mayor Steve No­ble’s pro­posal to in­stall me­tered kiosks in mu­nic­i­pal park­ing lots is not a new con­cept.

Over the years, the idea has popped up in City Hall dis­cus­sions as law­mak­ers sought new sources of rev­enue.

But nei­ther the kiosks nor any other kind of me­tered park­ing has ma­te­ri­al­ized in the half dozen or so mu­nic­i­pal lots where mo­torists cur­rently park for free.

Me­ters in those lots were re­moved in 2007, and some 500 of those me­ters were in­stalled along city streets.

No­ble said last week that he plans to pur­chase 15 pay sta­tions and put some, if not all, in the mu­nic­i­pal lots.

In 2012, for­mer Alderman Thomas Hof­fay,

D-Ward 2, brought up the idea of me­tered park­ing kiosks at two Up­town lots on North Front Street.

At the time, for­mer city Pub­lic Works Su­per­in­ten­dent Michael Schupp pitched the same idea for the park­ing lot where the city’s Up­town Park­ing Garage once stood.

That same year, thenCom­mon Coun­cil Mi­nor­ity Leader Deb­bie Brown, R-Ward 9, who still serves on the coun­cil, also sup­ported the kiosks.

“(The) con­cept of park­ing me­ters is old and some­what out­dated,” Brown said in an email at the time. “In the new tech­nol­ogy era, park­ing kiosks are the way to go. (They) are not ex­pen­sive to in­stall, like park­ing me­ters, and there is bet­ter con­trol of the monies. Shop­pers and vis­i­tors can pay by debit cards, cash or credit card.”

Oth­ers, like for­mer Alderman Robert Senor, who chaired the coun­cil’s Laws and Rules Com­mit­tee in 2012, was adamantly op­posed to any new paid park­ing schemes in the city.

“It is just another back­door

tax,” Senor, D-Ward 8, said at the time.

“We have gone through this, back and forth ... and we have al­ready de­cided that me­ters should be left out of the park­ing lots for work­ers so that they are not parked on the street, mak­ing it that much harder for busi­nesses (to draw cus­tomers),” Senor said.

James Sot­tile was mayor at the time when park­ing me­ters were re­moved and the city lots were made free.

Sot­tile said re­cently that he does not sup­port the restora­tion of paid park­ing in the mu­nic­i­pal lots.

If me­tered park­ing is re­stored, he said, em­ploy­ees will shift their ve­hi­cles back from those lots to the street, feed me­ters all day long, and take up “prime” park­ing spots or­di­nar­ily re­served for peo­ple do­ing busi­ness.

“I think you have to take in ac­count (free) park­ing for em­ploy­ees ... to re­move them from the streets where the stores are lo­cated,” Sot­tile said.

No­ble’s plan also calls for set­ting up a sys­tem where mo­torists can feed street me­ters us­ing smart­phones. The plan would al­low em­ploy­ees with smart­phones to feed me­ters

with­out hav­ing to put change in them, he said.

Sot­tile ar­gues that the $175,000 the city es­ti­mates it will col­lect is not sig­nif­i­cant enough to war­rant paid park­ing in the mu­nic­i­pal lots.

He said cre­at­ing eco­nomic devel­op­ment as well as hous­ing are bet­ter ways to “grow the tax base” and gen­er­ate rev­enue.

Hof­fay, how­ever, said No­ble’s idea is a good one, with “user fee” mind­set. If peo­ple are us­ing city lots, Hof­fay said, they should con­trib­ute to their main­te­nance.

Hof­fay pointed out that there are nu­mer­ous streets

“on the pe­riph­ery” of the Up­town cen­ter busi­ness district that have no me­ters and park­ing is al­lowed.

The clamor of the past is likely to re­sume amid No­ble’s pro­posal. He even thinks so.

“An item that I ex­pect will spur sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est and di­a­logue is the planned over­haul of our park­ing man­age­ment sys­tem,” No­ble said in his 2017 Bud­get Mes­sage. “My ad­min­is­tra­tion is com­mit­ted to bring­ing our park­ing ser­vices into the 21st cen­tury, as well as im­prov­ing and main­tain­ing our park­ing fa­cil­i­ties.”

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