May 19, 2010
City moves closer to paid parking
Common Council approves continuation of study examining 4 streets near college
The Common Council on Tuesday voted 6-2 to allow department heads to continue exploring the feasibility of creating paid parking on Harrington and James streets, Prospect Terrace and the one-way section of Pleasant Street.
Police Chief F. Michael Catalano and Bryan Gazda, director of administration and finance, have been leading the effort to plan how to implement paid parking. They are considering parking kiosks made by Parkeon, a New Jersey-based company. Catalano told the council he wanted its approval before spending more time on the issue.
The kiosks would require drivers to use change or credit cards to pay for a ticket they would put inside the windshields of their vehicles while they are parked.
The city will have to seek requests for proposals and consider proposals from other companies, and the council will have to vote again to hire a company to install the kiosks.
Mayor Susan Feiszli proposed creating paid parking on Main Street, but after listening to opposition from downtown business owners, she began supporting an idea to only create paid parking on the four streets near the SUNY Cortland campus this year. She has said she will support the idea of installing parking kiosks downtown in 2011 with a portion of the revenue going into a fund for downtown improvements, such as the creation of a parking garage.
Alderman Ken Dye (D-3rd Ward) and Dan Quail (R-5th Ward) voted against the resolution Tuesday.
Aldermen Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) said he thinks the parking rate for people using the kiosks should be lower than $1 per hour, the rate city officials are now considering and using as a basis to estimate revenue.
“I would like to see the price of these come down on an hourly basis so that it’s more affordable to students,” Michales said this morning. “And not all the residents are happy about having these in their front yards.”
Syracuse charges $1.25 an hour, Catalano said.
Dye said he received four phone calls and three e-mails from residents against the idea of installing the parking kiosks and spoke to one person who supported it. Alderman Mark Leonard (D-6th Ward) said none of the constituents he has spoken to support the idea.
“We have to find an alternative way to increase revenue,” Feiszli said in response.
“This is almost a no-brainer because of the amount of revenue it can generate,” said Catalano, who proposed the idea in 2009.
Parkeon projects that if the city charges $1 per hour and the machines are used 40 percent of the time, the city would generate $125,664 a year for the first five years, after paying toward loans and annual fees. The city would generate $169,200 in revenue in the sixth year and the following years, according to a revenue analysis completed by Parkeon.
Leonard, who voted for the resolution, said he is concerned that SUNY Cortland students might not put money in the kiosks, or might get tickets and not pay them. He said SUNY Cortland has not supported letting city police officers drive around the campus to look for license plates of vehicles that have unpaid city parking tickets.
Catalano said the police department can “scoff” the licenses of people with unpaid tickets so they cannot re-register their vehicles.
As proposed, 20 machines would be installed on the four streets and be used for 180 parking spaces — a ratio of one machine for every nine parking spaces. The machines would only be installed in areas where parking is already allowed.
Gazda has said the 20 kiosks from Parkeon would cost $192,250. He said he will consider two methods of financing the kiosks to determine which would have a lower interest rate.
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