During its weekly meeting Thursday, the Plattsburgh Common Council approved the submission of a parking study from consultants. Some downtown business owners oppose it.
In August 2017, Plattsburgh city officials met with consultants Carl Walker Inc. to begin a parking needs assessment that will be part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative that re-envisions the center city. In December and January a series of meetings were held on the proposed recommendations, which include rearranging parking in the city center, constructing parking garages and implementing paid parking.
Acceptance of the February 2018 Parking Study report was on the common council’s agenda Thursday evening. Ward 3 Republican Dale Dowdle wanted clarification before he voted. "By accepting the parking study, what is that commit us to? We’re just accepting the parking study?”
Mayor Colin Read: “Correct and it will then become public. This will be an opportunity for us to begin a public process to decide how the council would like to finally make a series of your own changes to parking.”
Ward 6 Councilor Joshua Kretzer: “So not the decisions of how the parking will take place just the findings of the study so we can use that to move forward.”
Dowdle: “Right. So we're not committed.”
The study was unanimously accepted by the council. A number of downtown business owners are concerned about the proposed changes. Community Organizer and member of the former DRI Planning Committee Jeremiah Ward is advocating that the city instead adopt the Strong Towns development approach. "Our existing buildings provide much more bang for the buck than new developments. Clinton Street’s buildings on average are worth $3.8 million per acre. Not only is there more bang for your buck there, you don't have to deal with the hassle of completely overhauling the city's parking or risk a large scale developer not pulling through or fulfilling their promises on Durkee Street. That is what Strong Towns is all about.”
Resident Kevin Lewis is opposed to the recommendations made by the consultant. “What they're proposing is not only paid parking, which as I've come to understand it didn't work in the past, but also more on-street parking, which wouldn't be available to us during the winter months because of how we remove snow. So it's definitely needed that we have the Durkee Street lot, which is 65 percent of the off-street parking downtown.”
Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read says the consultant did make a few adjustments to the plan since his last visit. “He figured out a design to create a hundred additional parking spots in the neighborhood of the corner of Durkee and Bridge Street through diagonal parking, widened streets, etc. So whereas we may lose 280 spots in Durkee Street we replace a hundred of them immediately for the businesses and residences around there. We still want to find another 280 somewhere in the downtown. He recommends a couple places we may want to explore for that as well. So the consultant really listened and I think once people see the report and start discussing it I think they’ll be impressed with some of the parking possibilities we can create in the downtown.”
Read adds that a review of the plan by the council and public now begins. “The Council presumably hold a series of hearings. We'd like to have this dovetail a little bit with how we would like to roll out development in the DRI because that's going to affect the layout of economic activity, our parking needs. We need to make sure we can generate more parking spots downtown than already exist today and that's been anticipated by the consultant. There's a lot of kind of traffic engineering and then streetscaping kind of concerns we’ll have to do but we can do that in dovetail with our streetscaping work and our Durkee Street work as part of the DRI.”
The city plans to post the report on its website.