History teaches us folly of municipal parking fees
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