The city of Plattsburgh won $10 million in the first round of New York Downtown Revitalization Initiative grants. A major part of the redevelopment will occur at the Durkee Street parking lot in the city center. An advisory committee has been working on recommendations to deal with the loss, shuffling and management changes of the nearly 300 spaces expected to be impacted. The Plattsburgh Common Council accepted their recommendations at its Thursday meeting.
The Plattsburgh Parking Advisory Committee was formed last November to create a draft parking plan for the DRI redevelopment. On Tuesday the group approved and forwarded recommendations to Plattsburgh Common Councilors. Their recommendations include: a parking permit system be implemented before physical development of buildings begins. If a system is created using permits and kiosks, the Downtown Special Assessment District should be eliminated or reduced. Downtown on-street parking time limits should be standardized. And the Advisory Committee also suggested that the city “not implement any substantive changes … until the results of the Generic Environmental Impact Statement and its associated traffic study …. to evaluate the impact of various downtown development projects are completed.” During the public comment session opponents of the current development plans questioned the council’s pending acceptance of the parking plan. “My name is Betty Lennon and I live in Ward 4. If it has to do with paid parking I ask that you table it until there are public hearings on it.” Sylvie Beaudreau has been a consistent critic of the city’s redevelopment plans and said the city is simply repeating past mistakes. “Some of you have been around here long enough to know that paid parking was attempted in the post-war years and in the 1970’s when the malls were built. It was abandoned and the parking meters were removed. It seems to me that downtown merchants if they have paid parking will be put at a disadvantage vis-a-vis the town merchants who have ample and free parking. And we’re not just facing the threat of malls, we’re facing the threat of online shopping where parking’s not an issue. Before engaging in the expense of doing this you might want to think about the real world implications of what you’re doing.” Beaudreau added she was speaking on behalf of several people who couldn’t attend the meeting. “I understand that at this week’s Parking Advisory Committee meeting that Kate Mahoney-Meyers submitted a petition opposing this system of paid parking that was signed by a thousand people, which in Plattsburgh is a lot of people. So you might not think that matters but I think it does.” As Beaudreau became more critical, Mayor Colin Read ruled her out of order and immediately clarified the recommendations before them. "Before anybody subscribes to the misconception that we are making a decision on parking tonight or moving to a paid parking regime, that is totally false. The recommendations of the PPAC was actually to liberalize parking, to unify towards a 2-hour parking limit for all of the downtown and to continue with a system of day permits or other types of permits if people wish to park beyond the two hours. So there is not contemplated at this time in any way moving to a paid parking regime.” Ward 1 Democrat Rachelle Armstrong and Ward 5 Democrat Patrick McFarlin, the council representative on the parking committee, reiterated that the resolution they were considering merely accepted the ideas for further action. “Just want to clarify we’re not committing to any decisions, we’re accepting the body of recommendations.” McFarlin: “And most of them are to delay until after the GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement). There was some good discussion, a lot of consensus.”Armstrong: “And we will take these recommendations into consideration.” The resolution passed unanimously.City officials are planning an open house to update the public on the DRI that will include information on the parking plan. It is scheduled for Wednesday August 21st from 4 until 7 p.m. at the Farmers Market pavilion.