Mayor makes case for park­ing fee hike

No­ble tells city business group that ex­tra rev­enue will pay for up­keep, re­pair of lots

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ariél Zangla azangla@free­manon­line.com ArielAtFree­man on Twit­ter

The plan to dou­ble the cost of on-street park­ing and be­gin charg­ing driv­ers to use mu­nic­i­pal lots will be ac­com­pa­nied by a com­mit­ment to use the in­creased rev­enue to re­pair and main­tain those lots, Mayor Steve No­ble said.

No­ble met Thurs­day morn­ing with mem­bers of the Business Al­liance of Kingston to dis­cuss his park­ing plan for the city. He said the cost of on-street park­ing is to in­crease to $1 per hour be­gin­ning early next year and that he hopes to have pay­ment kiosks in­stalled and op­er­a­tional in nine of the city’s 10 mu­nic­i­pal lots by April 1.

No­ble said the city does not own the Down­town mu­nic­i­pal lot near the cor­ner of Broad­way and East Strand, un­der the U.S. Route 9W bridge, and there­fore can­not charge for its use.

The cost to park in the mu­nic­i­pal lots would be 75 cents per hour, No­ble said, though there would be an op­tion for users to buy monthly and yearly per­mits at greatly re­duced rates. He said monthly per­mits would cost $40 each, while yearly ones would cost about $400.

Speak­ing at Frank Guido’s Lit­tle Italy in Mid­town, which is across Thomas Street from one of the city’s lots, No­ble said the city also is look­ing at dis­count op­tions for group pur­chases or longer-term per­mits. And he said the city wants to work with busi­nesses to be sure the park­ing changes can work for them and their em­ploy­ees. Also, the mayor said, there is no pro­posal to change the times when driv­ers have to pay for park­ing: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon­day through Satur­day.

No­ble said the park­ing pay­ment kiosks will be user-friendly, al­low­ing peo­ple to pay with cash or credit cards. The city also will move to a sys­tem in which users can pay for me­tered park­ing with an app on their smart­phones, he said. The mayor said cy­ber se­cu­rity is be­ing con­sid­ered in the se­lec­tion of the app ven­dor.

City of­fi­cials still are eval­u­at­ing which ven­dor to use for the kiosk sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to pro­vided in­for­ma­tion.

Of the park­ing de­tails an­nounced so far, No­ble said: “We know that this also can’t be the last step.”

He said there also must be a com­mit­ment to main­tain and re­pair mu­nic­i­pal lots and that he put $100,000 into his pro­posed city bud­get for 2017 to fund those ef­forts with­out the city hav­ing to bor­row money or raise taxes.

He also said that as the city puts money aside for its lots, it po­ten­tially could buy land in the fu­ture to cre­ate new park­ing ar­eas.

No­ble said the goal of the higher me­ter fees and the new fees in the lots is not to fill the city’s cof­fers but to make sure there is money avail­able to main­tain the lots.

He said the free mu­nic­i­pal lots al­ways have been some­thing of a “sa­cred cow” in the city but that the sys­tem needs to change so more users pay for park­ing in­fra­struc­ture that tra­di­tion­ally has been funded only by city tax­pay­ers.

“I know that, for Kingston res­i­dents, this is not go­ing to be pop­u­lar,” No­ble said, and he joked that it prob­a­bly will keep him from be­ing re-elected in 2019.

He said, though, that he ran for the of­fice last year to bring about changes that will help Kingston, not just to win an­other term.

In re­sponse to ques­tions, No­ble said the city will need be­tween 12 and 15 park­ing pay­ment kiosks to meet its needs, with each cost­ing be­tween $7,000 and $9,000. He said the larger lots will need more than one kiosk.

In the event of a snow emer­gency, which pro­hibits on-street park­ing, there will be no charge to park in the mu­nic­i­pal lots, No­ble said.

No­ble also said he is con­sid­er­ing a two-week amnesty pe­riod dur­ing which peo­ple with older park­ing tick­ets can pay them with­out the $20 late fee. He said the city dur­ing that pe­riod also would have a “food for fines” pro­gram in which peo­ple could pay their park­ing tick­ets with food that would be do­nated to a lo­cal pantry.

ARIEL ZANGLA — DAILY FREE­MAN

Kingston Mayor Steve No­ble, stand­ing, speaks dur­ing Thurs­day’s event at Frank Guido’s Lit­tle Italy in Mid­town. Seated, from left, are Kris­ten Wil­son, grants man­ager for the city of Kingston; city Comptroller John Tuey; and Me­gan Weiss-Rowe, the city’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.

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