Proposed Parking Permits Pose Problems

Photo by Lizzie Nimetz.

On Oct. 23 New Paltz Mayor Jason West, Village Trustee Sally Rhoads and New Paltz business owners and residents met to discuss parking in the village.

This meeting was held after Rhoads and Basco proposed an amendment that would not allow non-residential parking in the R-1, R-2, R-3 and Historic districts Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

West said after Basco and Rhoads presented their idea to the village board, the board gave them their blessing to pursue this plan. He also said there has been no official proposal and nothing has been written.

Rhoads said there is a major problem on residential streets near the SUNY New Paltz campus.

“There’s no question we have a parking problem in New Paltz and now we have an even bigger parking problem due to construction [at the college] and students who feel for one reason or another they do not wish to pay the parking permit fees on campus,” she said.

Over the summer, West sent a letter to SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian asking to reduce the parking fee for students on campus. Christian said the college’s sustainability committee discouraged doing so because it would encourage more driving. He also said the fee goes towards maintaining and improving the college’s parking lots, something he said a lot of campuses use that revenue for.

Christian also said he didn’t see this idea as a workable one to achieve the village’s goals because if parking was free on-campus, students would still park on the streets because of the close proximity to Old Main and van den Berg Hall.

The business owners and residents were not in favor of the proposed plan because of how it would impact New Paltz’s visitors. Mark Sherman, a member of the transportation implementation committee said he wants New Paltz to its welcome visitors.

“This idea of welcomeness and opening is important to residents and people who visit,” Sherman said. “This is a tourist town, so people come and visit. This area is growing.”

David Danter, the owner of The Bakery in New Paltz, said during the meetings the village had over the summer with residents and business owners, cars blocking driveways was a big problem in the village. He said a solution to this would be to stripe driveways, so people know how far away to park from it.

Jon Cohen, co-owner of the Groovy Blueberry and village resident, said he doesn’t have a problem with first-come first-serve parking.

“I don’t think it’s the purview of the board to determine if public streets become private streets and that’s what we all really have a problem with,” Cohen said. “Nobody really wants you to get involved with that aspect of our lives or our visitors’ lives. You should be attempting to get a parking facility.”

Another option Rhoads said would be to allow double-sided parking on all streets, granted that emergency vehicles would be able to pass through. Rhoads said if the village allows double-sided parking then more students who don’t want to purchase parking permits will be able to park there.

Amy Cohen, co-owner of the Groovy Blueberry, said New Paltz should move its downtown business community and downtown village into the 21st century by creating a base for tourists to park their cars and stay in the village.

“I feel like we’re a little bit stuck in the ‘60s and ‘70s, which is what some people like about New Paltz, but on another level we have a lot of very sophisticated people coming through and residents with cars and adults dropping children off for lessons,” she said. “I would prefer they had a place to shop locally.”

Christian said members of the business community reached out to the college to take part in further discussion about the village’s parking. He said Assistant Vice President for Facilities Management John Shupe and Assistant Vice President of Administration and Finance Julie Majak will take part in further discussions with the village because they are the experts on the topic.

“We’d love to work with the village in figuring out a solution that would be good for the village, good for the college, that supports our overall community sustainability goals and provides the most convenient parking for students that we can,” Christian said.

Going forward, Christian said the college is looking into expanding the Route 32 parking lot and looking for ways to incentivize students to carpool with each other.