His­tory teaches us folly of mu­nic­i­pal park­ing fees

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION -

Dear Edi­tor, Through­out the World War II years, Buf­falo, N.Y., had two main shop­ping dis­tricts, down­town stores were con­sid­ered up­scale, the mid­town stores catered to the av­er­age per­son. To shop at ei­ther, there was me­tered park­ing and penal­ties. Most pop­u­la­tion ar­eas in that era were struc­tured the same.

In 1946, in the sub­urb of Cheek­towaga, N.Y., the Thruway Plaza mall opened with the lure of “am­ple free park­ing.” Shop­pers fol­lowed, Buf­falo stores opened out­lets in the malls and ul­ti­mately closed their orig­i­nal Buf­falo lo­ca­tion for lack of foot traf­fic. Mean­while me­ters re­mained on Buf­falo streets.

Now Kingston city of­fi­cials pro­pose dou­bling the cost of me­ters, in­creas­ing fines for vi­o­la­tions, and adding me­ters to cur­rently free park­ing in mu­nic­i­pal lots.

At the same time, th­ese same of­fi­cials pro­fess a de­sire for more peo­ple to shop and dine in the Kingston busi­ness dis­tricts. Surely, they rea­son in what they are propos­ing.

As for the pro­jected $175,000 in rev­enue, that’s gross rev­enue be­fore sub­tract­ing the cost of meter pur­chase, re­pair, re­place­ment, and the cost of en­force­ment and col­lect­ing fees. They should share those cal­cu­la­tions.

The pro­posal is jus­ti­fied by say­ing pro­jected health in­sur­ance costs for city em­ploy­ees alone adds $700,000 to the bud­get. The so­lu­tion is to cap mu­nic­i­pal con­tri­bu­tion to em­ployee in­sur­ance and make any in­creases in pre­mium costs be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the em­ployee or re­tiree.

Mayor Steve Noble’s re­sponse to me was, ”While you may have his­tor­i­cal ex­am­ples in which park­ing neg­a­tively im­pacted busi­ness dis­tricts, I have a num­ber of stud­ies that demon­strate that a bal­anced and fair park­ing sys­tem that sup­ports off-street park­ing for res­i­dents and em­ploy­ees and en­cour­ages on-street park­ing for vis­i­tors and cus­tomers, is crit­i­cal to a vi­brant busi­ness district”.

I leave it to your read­ers to think about what is the more prob­a­ble out­come of this pro­posal and to share their opin­ions with our mayor and their al­der­man. Ronald Di­etl Kingston

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