Tour Bus Busted

Parking ticket irks business owner

​By Michael Turton

Driver Michael Art wonders if he should fight the ticket. Photo by M. Turton

The issuing of a parking ticket is not exactly breaking news in Cold Spring, but when a bus loaded with potential customers for village shops was written up on Sunday afternoon (Aug. 5), it caused at least one Main Street business owner to cry foul.

The bus, operated by Golden Age Adventure Travel out of New York City, was parked on Main Street between the pedestrian tunnel entrance and the Chamber of Commerce information booth. The area is clearly marked with signs that read “No Parking at Any Time” and “No Buses.” As a result, Christopher Coleman, Cold Spring’s parking enforcement officer, issued a $45 ticket.

Officer Coleman may have simply enforced the law, but Mandy McGuire, co-owner of McGuire’s-on-Main, thinks it was wrong to issue the ticket, “…because there is no place for buses to park, and (the driver) was bringing 50 to 80 people into the village.” Cold Spring does not currently have an area designated for bus parking or for dropping off passengers. McGuire said that that if buses are to be ticketed for parking in that area, the law should be applied equally across the board. “I don’t think they should ticket tourists. If they are going to ticket tour buses, then they should also ticket people waiting there for their spouses to get off the train,” she said. “They should also ticket commuters during the week who are too lazy to buy a parking pass.”

McGuire thinks the real issue is tourism and Main Street business. “I believe tourism has dropped off in the village because of parking tickets,” she said, stating that on occasion she has even paid tickets issued to her customers. “No one came in here (to her pub) from that bus, and I don’t care about that. Someone in the village made some money. “

One of those someones was Jeff Consaga, owner and chef of the Foundry Cafe, right across the street from McGuire’s. Staff there said that 11 people from the bus came in for lunch, including its driver, Michael Art. “The area is clearly marked ‘No Parking,’ but still … it isn’t good for business to ticket tour buses. He probably wouldn’t have gotten a ticket if he had stayed with the bus,” Consaga said, indicating that has been the practice in the past. “I wish they had an area set aside for bus parking. That driver is welcome to come back for a free lunch.”

Golden Age Adventure Travel brought 56 visitors to Cold Spring. Photo by M. Turton

Contacted by The Paper, Cold Spring Mayor confirmed that there is no area for bus parking in the village but that it has not come up as an issue in the past nor has it been discussed. “But the Metro-North​ ​parking lot would be the perfect place for it,” he said. Metro-North allows free parking in its lot on weekends.

Gallagher disagreed with McGuire’s idea of giving tourists a pass on parking violations while concentrating on weekday infractions by commuters. “That sounds good in theory,” he said, “but it goes against the whole purpose (of enforcing parking laws).”

One bus that parks in the No Parking zone next to the Chamber of Commerce booth on a regular basis without being ticketed is the Cold Spring Trolley. Gallagher said the trolley is allowed to park there because it is for short periods of time and is one of several stops that the green tourist bus makes. He also pointed out that the trolley’s driver stays with the bus at all times.

The trolley parks in the same No Parking zone on a regular basis.Photo by M. Turton

​”They’re following the letter of the law, but you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you,” said Robert S. Lomino, president of the Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a Catch 22.” Lomino supports designating an area for bus parking. “Marathon might be perfect,” he said, referring to the old Marathon Battery site.

For his part, Coleman was unflinching in justifying his issuing a ticket. “The law is law. I ticketed the bus just as I would have ticketed any other vehicle in a No Parking zone.” Coleman said he has never received any special instructions regarding ticketing — or not ticketing — tour buses.

Meanwhile, back at the bus, Michael Art wondered aloud if he should fight the ticket. Art said that the group was in Cold Spring for about an hour and a half — enough time for his 56 passengers to have lunch and visit a few shops.

3 thoughts on “Tour Bus Busted

  1. As a new shop owner in Cold Spring, I must say that I am baffled by the attitude of Village officials when it comes to promoting and encouraging the economic development that is happening because of our small businesses. This article about the tour bus is a great example — don’t these people get it? If each of the 56 people on the bus spent just $25, which is not much, it would mean $1,400 came into our stores and restaurants. Instead, you have some bureaucrat (who probably doesn’t know the first thing about the struggles of the small business owners who help pay his salary) saying he’s gonna follow the letter of the law, come hell or high water. For all intents and purposes, Cold Spring is really the only place to Shop Putnam in the county and this is such a very special place that I feel lucky to have my little store here. I see how diligent the merchants are and how hard they all work to attract people to Main Street; I’d love to know how much sales tax is generated here that benefits the entire county. It’s very frustrating when local government officials seem to go out of their way to make things more difficult, especially in view of the difficulties faced by small business owners during this economic downturn that’s affecting the entire country. What happened to cooperation?

  2. We’ve been here almost seven years, Patty. Buckle up. It only gets worse. Wait until it snows!

    • Hey Shaun- that’s a pretty scary thought. On the other hand, I just survived seven years as a retailer in downtown Peekskill and feel like I may have post-traumatic stress syndrome after that experience. No matter how bad you may think it is in Cold Spring, we are worlds away from the Skills. First of all, there’s a real community of merchants here who genuinely care about their businesses. There’s a Chamber of Commerce, there are two newspapers and multiple websites that are promoting the Village. The foot traffic here is fantastic compared to what I had in my other store. Granted, I’m sure we all have our wish lists, but I still feel lucky to have a shop in what is arguably one of the most beautiful locations in the Hudson Valley. I would be glad to meet with you any time to discuss ideas on how to make things better. Meanwhile, thanks for expressing your concerns and I hope to meet you one of these days.