PRESS-REPUBLICAN: CITY HEARS VIEWS ON DOWNTOWN PARKING
Mayor suggests mix of paid, free parking possible
PLATTSBURGH — The future of parking in downtown Plattsburgh could involve fees, but some residents don’t seem to mind.
“As we ponder what we are going to do, it seems that paid parking is going to be in our future,” Hope Coryer said at Wednesday night’s meeting on parking in the downtown corridor of the City of Plattsburgh.
The city is undertaking a parking study to mesh with its Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which is expected to include major development in the Durkee Street parking lot.
The parking lot may be transformed, and many of the 360 parking spaces could be eliminated, and the city is trying to find ways those spots can be replaced.
“We don’t know for sure yet what will happen with the Durkee Street lot, but we are trying to be proactive,” said Paul DeDominicas, director of the city’s Community Development Office.
“Parking is a complicated thing, so we want to make sure we have the best data before we move forward.”
The city hired Carl Walker Inc., a parking consulting firm, to study downtown parking and produce recommendations.
Carl Walker Inc., headquartered in Michigan, has done parking studies and helped implement new systems in cities across the country since 1983.
About a dozen people attended Thursday’s meeting to express their thoughts.
Some said that while free parking, which exists now, is nice, they would be willing to pay for a better system.
“I think people will pay if it is convenient,” resident Mike Waite said.
Developer John Seiden, who owns business property on City Hall Place and other areas downtown, said one major lot like Durkee Street may not be the answer for the future.
“It seems that the successful developments are where the parking is,” he said.
“The nature of the beast is that people want to park as close as they can to the business they are going to. We need to maybe think about more smaller satellite parking areas and not focus so much on one big lot.”
Katherine Duesberg said larger parking areas are needed for places like the Strand Theatre on Brinkerhoff Street, which holds major events.
“I like the free parking, but we need some large areas for those big events,” she said.
Seiden said the city also needs to be wary of how a change in parking plans will affect the Downtown Parking Assessment District, into which business owners pay to maintain the Durkee Street parking lot.
“My biggest fear is a developer coming in and promising the moon, and the city gives away the farm,” he said.
“I’m not going to sit still for that.”
Jon Forster of Carl Walker Inc., who conducted the meeting, said paid parking has its benefits.
“Paid parking is a management tool that allows people to make choices about what they want to do, and it allows the city to manage its parking assets.”
Parking garages both above and below-ground can also be considered, Forster said.
“You can do anything, but there is a cost associated with it,” he said.
Forster and his staff will continue to collect parking data in the city and examine the 450 surveys that have been returned so far before making their recommendations.
Mayor Colin Read said the parking study needs to be done before the city can make a final determination about how the Downtown Revitalization Initiative will unfold.
“I was actually a little surprised to see so many people recommend we look at paid parking,” Read said.
The mayor said a mix of free parking farther away from the downtown corridor, such as in the underused lot off Dock Street where a hotel was once planned, and paid parking closer to restaurants and businesses might work.
Shuttle buses could also be used to ferry people from the Dock Street lot to downtown and other areas.
“There are some clever ways to give people choices,” he said.
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