Sep. 18—PLATTSBURGH — City councilors Thursday OK'd a resolution to purchase parking kiosks to manage the Lake City's downtown parking as soon as 2022.
"We'll see the kiosks get installed sooner than later," Mayor Christopher Rosenquest told the Press-Republican. "We're looking at bringing them online next year."
Talk of paid parking in the Plattsburgh City's downtown corridor, an on-and-off consideration for decades, resurfaced two weeks ago when parking solutions firm IPS Group presented its system to the Common Council.
IPS Group's Mark Berling, who brought one of the meters to the Council Chambers, said the kiosks were easy to use, solar charged and could very well "pay for themselves."
The $149,000 purchase of 14 meters was approved by the council Thursday. Several will be installed in city-owned lots, like the Arnie Pavone
Memorial Parking Plaza, the Broad Street lot, the Court Street lot and the public section of the Clinton County Government Center lot.
The evening's price tag included installation and training costs, and the city would likely pay about $55 per kiosk per month for its operation system, Berling had said.
A fee schedule has yet to be set for downtown parking.
The Plattsburgh Parking Advisory Committee, the latest group to suggest visitors pay to park downtown, recommended it cost no more than what it would take to manage the system itself.
Mayor Rosenquest said an idea to charge about $1 per hour had been discussed, but said those details were still under consideration.
"That still needs to get worked on."
As previously reported by the Press-Republican, the Parking Committee was formed once it was determined that the Durkee Street parking lot, a 3.4-acre block of 289 free public parking spaces, would house a mixed-use development project, inevitably cutting back on its available parking and leaving some community members concerned for the future of downtown parking.
Though that project is currently trapped in litigation at the hands of its opposition, the mayor still thought it time to get a paid parking system somewhat in place for when it's needed.
"For us to sit back and wait to make a move on something like this — we would just be behind the eight ball," Rosenquest said. "Rather than do that, let's prepare for something that we know is coming anyway and that has been in the works for four years now."
The city earlier this year adopted a resolution to uniform its on-street parking time limits, making them two hours across the board.
As the city transitions to a paid system, the mayor said that on-street parking would remain free at the start.
"Certainly (charging) could be something that happens in the future, but it's not something that we've been talking about," he said.
A permit system will be in place for when the kiosks go live, he added.
"So those folks who are downtown for an extended period of time, whether they live here or they work here, so that they are not overly burdened with either having to park on the street and move their car every other hour or park in a parking lot and have to pay for it."
Of the 14 kiosks, the mayor said four would be installed at the Plattsburgh City Beach parking lot.
Though the city is still "working out the logistics," the idea is to charge beach-goers for parking, rather than have a staff member man the booth there, Rosenquest said.
So residents could either walk or bike in, free of charge, purchase a season pass, or pay the daily parking rate at the kiosk.
"And then we'll enforce parking at that lot up there," the mayor said.
The addition of a parking enforcement officer to work weekends was "part of the plan," he continued.
'WE ARE PLATTSBURGH'
With talk of the kiosks has come public scrutiny. Some have asserted the City of Plattsburgh is not like the City of Burlington, Vt. or the Village of Lake Placid, two nearby municipalities that charge visitors for parking.
In response to those claims, Mayor Rosenquest said, "I get that we are not Lake Placid, we are not Lake George, we are not Burlington. We are Plattsburgh and Plattsburgh is a tourist community and we are attractive to people."
The mayor further urged those in opposition to "go look at our parking lots."
"It would be one thing if there was, like, one person parked in our lots — our lots are full all of the time. People are attracted to being here. They want to be here."
And when people do visit downtown, Rosenquest said parking was a commodity that the city has to offer and believed a paid system would encourage better turnover.
"To ensure that people are churning through downtown and not taking up spaces," he said. "We want people to be able to come downtown, shop and then churn for the next person to come downtown, shop, rather than be there all day long every day."
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