Plattburgh parking fee plan faces headwinds

PLATTSBURGH, NY (WCAX) – Should Plattsburgh charge for downtown parking? After rolling out a plan last month to revamp downtown and beach fees, the city is now facing a rejection of the proposal.

“I’m here to talk about potential parking fees,” said Jennifer Boyer, one of many who spoke out against the proposed parking fee at Thursday night’s city council meeting.

The system would only apply to the “special assessment district” in the downtown core. Boyer, the owner of Warren Tire, says her downtown business planned to pay for parking passes for employees, but worries about the cost. “We have 30 people working for us. That alone at Warren Tire alone would cost us $10,000 a year,” she said.

Advisors also raised concerns about proposed fees that come on top of record gas prices and inflation. Councilor Jennifer Tallon worries about what the costs will mean for someone on a fixed income. “Maybe there could be a sliding scale based on income? Many people who live downtown only have enough money for their apartments and the basic necessities of life,” she said.

Mayor Chris Rosenquest says he understands the concerns, but adds the city has already discussed the four-year fee. He says the fee is designed to pay for the parking system itself and to offset the $71,000 Special Assessment District cost currently being paid by downtown building and business owners. “Any parking outside of this special assessment district is free and not enforced,” Rosenquest said.

The mayor and all councilors say they have heard the concerns of businesses and voters. “That’s the whole principle we’re looking at here – people using the parking lot should pay for it,” Councilor Mike Kelly said. “Every other community around us has embraced paid parking and I just think it’s time for Plattsburgh to catch up.”

The decision was eventually tabled so council could further discuss potential cuts for downtown employees and other concerns, but the mayor warned that some form of paid parking would be coming to the city this summer.

Plattsburgh City Beach is also seeing a change in its parking lot. The council has been discussing the pricing of parking on the beach for several weeks. It became controversial when the council announced that it would charge town and city residents for parking. The last few decades have seen parking become free for Plattsburgh residents as part of the 1992 Falcon Seaboard PILOT agreement. Now the city has backtracked and decided to keep parking free until the expiration of this agreement next year.

The city also says it’s moving away from several different fees for a flat rate of $12 or a season pass for $60.

The beach opens next Saturday, May 28.

Related stories:

Redevelopment plans take shape for Plattsburgh waterfront

Plattsburgh to revamp parking pricing system this summer

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