Village Parking Remains Problematic

Photo by Holly Lipka.

Parking ceases to improve in the Village of New Paltz since a series of proposals were recommended to the village board two and a half years ago.

Two previous members of the New Paltz Village board created 22 proposed changes to the village’s parking regulations such as banning non-resident parking in certain areas like the historic districts and enacting two-hour parking rules on residential streets. Since the recent mayoral election and a change of administration on the board in June, parking improvements have gotten little traction.

The changes implementated after the election were designed specifically to improve traffic flow and increase the cost of parking in certain areas to assure turnover rather than increasing the amount of parking in the village.

The New Paltz Transportation Implementation Committee (TIC), which is responsible for creating and improving transportation methods in town, recommended some of the implemented parking changes. A proposal recommended by the TIC and adopted by the board suggested the removal of parking meters around Hasbrouck Park and move them further up Main Street near Russo’s Italian Deli to better assure turnover.

“We want to prevent people from parking and leaving their cars all day,” Chair Gail Gallerie of the TIC said.  “This leaves customers finding nowhere to park when they go to these businesses.”

Gail Gallerie also said the TIC wanted to improve the flow of traffic which required the elimination of some parking spaces. A parking space at the corner of Main and Church Street in front of the business Likwid was removed on the village board’s approval. Gallerie said vehicles “came dangerously close” when passing each other. The owner of Likwid said “he has seen a lot of accidents there” and was supportive of the elimination, reported in a New Paltz Times article.

David Santer, the proprietor of The Bakery, as well as other downtown business owners opposed several of the original proposed changes and were worried about parking decreasing in the village.

Santer said in addition to needing parking, parallel parking along the streets promotes a comfortable pedestrian experience and is safer for pedestrians and bicyclists because cars must travel slower. He said since the new village government was established, parking issues aren’t getting worse but are also not getting better.

“Moving traffic seems to be more important to the board than a good pedestrian experience and having places to park,” Santer said.

Allen Bowdery, a member of the TIC, said the general parking problems in the business district are primarily because New Paltz was built in the 19th century, before the proliferation of cars.

Bowdery said he doesn’t have any realistic solutions to the parking issues in the village.

“My own opinion is that SUNY faculty, staff, and students should not have to pay for parking on campus,” Bowdery said. “This would ameliorate the village parking problems somewhat and so would the adding of more dormitories.” Bowdery said both of these SUNY issues cost money that SUNY doesn’t have.

Santer said shared parking, where lots could be adjoined to each other behind businesses could be very successful in adding parking in the village instead of businesses owning private lots. Eventually he believes New Paltz needs a parking structure, potentially where the current village parking lot off Huguenot Street due to its lack of use.

Gallerie said the current village board is discussing some ideas that might create more spaces behind businesses to increase parking, but has not heard of any specific proposals yet.