PRESS-REPUBLICAN: CITY OF PLATTSBURGH CONTINUES TO MULL PARKING OPTIONS
City Of Plattsburgh Continues to Mull Parking Options
The recommendations were put together by Carl Walker WGI, a national parking consultant hired by the city to come up with ideas to change parking patterns to work better with developments planned for the Durkee Street parking lot as part of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
“We need a plan that is flexible and most importantly has to be seen as an asset for the city,” Councilor Josh Kretser (D-Ward 6) said at Wednesday night’s public hearing on the parking plans.
City Director of Community Development Matthew Miller said bids for project plans to develop the Durkee Street lot should be received and decided on in June, and work could begin later this summer or in the fall.
The development of the lot is part of the DRI for which the city received $10 million from the state in 2016.
But before that work can occur, the city must have parking plans solidified in order to replace the 275 spaces that will be removed due to development.
Of the recommendations, a central theme was to create a parking authority to manage downtown parking and the ensuing revenue if the city decides to implement paid parking.
A tiered payment system would give patrons a choice of where to park and how much they want to pay, explained John Forster of Carl Walker.
Options include offering the first hour of parking free and increasing prices for longer duration.
“Cities that don’t have parking problems are the cities that are contracting and dying,” Walker said.
“Parking problems are the natural evolution of a growing city, so this is a nice problem to have.”
Rachelle Armstrong (D-Ward 1) said it is difficult for the city to enforce parking now, and a paid system might work better.
“It seems inevitable to me that we will go to paid parking,” she said.
Patrick McFarlin (I-Ward 5) said parking revenue should go towards the infrastructure and management of parking.
“It should pay for the staff and administration costs,” he said. “We are not trying to make a profit to solve the city’s budget crisis.”
Instituting paid parking would likely mean the elimination of the Downtown Parking Assessment District, in which downtown merchants pay towards the upkeep of the Durkee Street lot.
Savario Menardi, a downtown business and property owner, asked about parking for tenants who live downtown.
“It will be really hard to rent if people can’t park downtown,” he said.
One of the recommendations from Carl Walker that Forster pointed out was establishing residential parking permits for those living downtown.
Kretser said costs for such permits could be included in rents.
Another option is to construct a parking garage, but Councilor Michael Kelly (D-Ward 2) wants no part of that.
“The city would have to maintain it, and we already are struggling to maintain some of the infrastructure we have,” he said.
The city’s Planning Committee will continue to meet and discuss the parking options before any decisions are made.
“Ultimately, this is a council decision, and I don’t want to step on their prerogative, but I am really impressed with the various options that have been discussed,” Mayor Colin Read said.
“The difficult part will be to create additional new downtown parking before the process begins to redevelop the Durkee Street lot as specified by the Downtown Revitalization Initiative the state of New York sponsored.”
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