On Sept. 16, concerned community member Jennifer Lynn took to Facebook, expressing her issues with the newly implemented mobile payment option to public parking in the Village of New Paltz. The app, ParkMobile, which was implemented on Sept. 1, has left some residents and visitors alike concerned with how this will affect their ability to park now and in the future.
The Facebook post, which was met with 86 comments, read, “THIS is FUN – So now I can’t park at Hasbrouck Park, because I don’t have a smartphone?! It’s great to have options to pay for parking, but not removing the friggin meters and forcing us to do it online!”
The ParkMobile app provides people with multiple ways to pay for parking, all of which allow users to skip the meter and go contactless. There are four ways to pay: by the app available for iOS and Android, through the web, via text message by texting “PARK,” to 77223 or in the Google Pay app.
However, this new feature isn’t taking away from the coin meters that are still available for use. While previously broken meters will not be replaced, any meter in working condition will remain free for the public to use.
Deputy Mayor of the Village of New Paltz, Alexandria Wojcik, explains that the decision was made to move the Village in a more accessible direction. Aside from accessibility, coin meters are costly, and with more places implementing contactless payment for public parking the harder it has become to find companies that make the meters in general. “It’s time to catch up with the times and move towards different systems that aren’t going to make us residents that live here, taxpayers, pay for replacing old times,” said Wojcik.
“The app, it’s in lieu of buying parking meters, because new parking meters would cost the equivalent amount and then the price for using those meters would be equivalent to how much you would have to pay using the app. So it’s one or the other and we have had a lot of interet from community members who appreciate the flexibility of the app,” said Mayor Tim Rogers.
One member of the Village of New Paltz expressed their concern with
parking at the Village of New Paltz Board of Trustees meeting held on Sept. 13. The board meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month at 7:00 p.m., at Village Hall and is open to all. During this particular meeting, Village of New Paltz resident and SUNY New Paltz student Taylor Venditti shared that she received a parking ticket on Sept. 11 in front of Hasbrouck Park.
“I attended class this Tuesday and I received a parking ticket where there was no meter. I came and talked to the [parking] office, while I was doing that two other individuals came up with parking tickets stating the same thing. There was no meter for them to pay,” said Venditti.
Venditti explained that she was given a $20 parking ticket that if she didn’t pay in five days would become a $30 ticket, roughly the same price as her lunch for one day. Venditti shared her confusion that students were not given a warning of this change, like how they would if they needed to move their cars for snow plowing.
The ticket, however, wasn’t Venditti’s only concern, “There is a park here that I see families go to very often … It feels like now you are shutting out some lower income people from the park. You have to go and get an app, you have to pay with a credit card. Not everyone has a bank account or a credit card. Like my own mother doesn’t have a credit card, she would not be able to go to the park with my nieces and nephews.”
Before ParkMobile was brought to New Paltz, board members discussed possible issues that could potentially arise, Deputy Mayor Wojcik recalled some questions, “What happens if somebody doesn’t have a phone or doesn’t have some sort of credit card capability? The service fee was something that was brought up too, because for credit card transactions, for everything, there’s always a service fee, whereas with coin transactions, there just isn’t. How do we let everybody know?”
To make sure that people are aware of the change, Mayor of New Paltz, Tim Rogers and Deputy Mayor Wojcik have tasked one of the Village trustees to conduct a walking survey, to ensure that ParkMobile signs and stickers are within walking distance of every spot in New Paltz. “It’s just a matter of letting people know the information,” said Wojcik.
“The reason we have parking enforcement is so spots continously roll out, so it benefits the businesses, it benefits the people that live in the community. Because what happens if you don’t have parking enforcement, the cars just sit there indefinitely,” said Mayor Rogers.
Parking meters are in place to ensure the flow of traffic continues, “Otherwise people like me would just park someplace for weeks at a time and make it inaccessible for differently abled folks and people with children and people with lots of groceries to park close to where they’re doing they’re shopping and playing and working,” says Wojcik.
“After living here for 20 years, you find the spots to park but it’s just a part of our life and part of everyone’s lives. Any place that you drive cars around and have a walkable downtown. Sharing that info out, I think, is really important, because there is free public parking,” says Wojcik. “My advice, go off the beaten path. Find one of those places you can park without even having to deal with any of this.”