Village docking fees likely to increase

By Michael Turton

Mayor Ralph Falloon has thrown a new twist into the long-running discussion regarding Main Street parking in Cold Spring. At Tuesday’s meeting (Feb. 4) of the Village Board he unveiled a concept drawing prepared by Clough Harbour & Associates (CHA), the Albany-based consulting firm that is developing plans for the $1 million Main Street project aimed at improving sidewalks, curbs, handicapped accessibility and other related infrastructure.

Diagonal parking has been proposed for part of Main Street. (Photo by M. Turton)
Diagonal parking has been proposed for part of Main Street. Click to enlarge. (Photo by M. Turton)

The drawing illustrates a new look for the north side of Main Street from the fire hall to Fair Street, a section that features some of the widest sidewalks in the village. The concept plan calls for giving up part of those sidewalks in order to create diagonal parking spaces. While diagonal parking is not unheard of, the twist is that this plan calls for the spaces to be aligned in a way that would require westbound vehicles to back into the new parking spaces.

Falloon said that approach makes it easier and safer for drivers to exit the parking spaces because they can simply go forward rather than backing out into traffic. He said this form of diagonal parking has been used elsewhere including in parts of New York City and in Lake George. The up side of the plan is that it would result in a net gain of 12 parking spots. One downside is that it would require removal of 10 trees.

Falloon emphasized that the drawing is only an idea at this stage and that he welcomes comments on the concept. He also acknowledged that others including the fire department would have to formally weigh in on the plan’s feasibility.

Cold Spring resident Kathleen Foley questioned if the proposed scheme would leave enough room for delivery trucks that service businesses along the proposed section of Main Street. She also brought up what she described as “vast football field size” parking spaces found on some parts of Main Street.

The exchange prompted Trustee Stephanie Hawkins to ask if the committee that prepared a detailed parking study as part of the 2012 Comprehensive Plan would be reconstituted. Falloon responded that a new parking committee would be formed. Malia Marzollo, who operates Skybaby Yoga, asked why two parking spaces on Rock Street had recently been eliminated.

Falloon said that a new “No Parking” sign had been placed in the wrong location and that the two spaces will be restored. Trustee Charles Hustis is arranging a workshop to deal with parking issues; however no date has been set yet.

Cold Spring dock ‘undervalued’

The “sweet spot” Falloon is seeking remained elusive as trustees again discussed docking fees, this time with two representatives of the Seastreak boat line. Falloon said that while he doesn’t want to discourage cruise boats from visiting Cold Spring due to “crazy fees,” the village does have to consider the cost of infrastructure, garbage pickup and other expenses.

Two Seastreak boats wait to dock at Cold Spring last fall. (File photo by M. Turton)
Two Seastreak boats wait to dock at Cold Spring last fall. (File photo by M. Turton)

Whatever that sweet spot ends up being it will almost certainly mean an increase in fees.  Boats using the dock at the foot of Main Street currently pay a flat rate of $2 per foot based upon the size of the boat. Passengers pay $60 for the day trip for tickets purchased online or at the cruise line’s office. Tickets are also sold at a discounted rate of $40 through a company similar to “Groupon.”

In 2013 Seastreak took in between $150,000 and $160,000 in gross revenue from its trips to Cold Spring. Officials with the cruise line said that between mid-September and mid-November, a total of 24 vessels docked at Cold Spring, bringing 3,300 passengers to the village. Hawkins pointed out that the $6,768 paid by Seastreak last year amounted to only about 3 percent of the gross revenue derived from its Cold Spring excursions.

She also said that in speaking with officials from other communities such as Kingston, that also charge cruise boats for dockage, she was advised that use of the Cold Spring dock is currently undervalued.

No decision was reached on how much fees may increase or what form any new charges might take. Hawkins reported that some other ports use an annual licensing fee and also charge based on the number of passengers on each boat. Seastreak officials said that fees based on the size of the boat are advantageous to the village, pointing out that if an excursion has few passengers due to unfavorable weather, the village would still collect the full per-boat fee. The largest of Seastreak’s vessels is 141 feet in length and can accommodate up to 405 passengers.

“Rafting” of boats was also discussed. Last year village officials were surprised to see three boats rafted together at the dock when only one was expected. Seastreak officials explained that the additional boats had brought passengers to other nearby destinations such as West Point and that rather than cruising the Hudson, using additional fuel, the empty boats docked at Cold Spring.

Village officials had been under the impression that the two additional boats also brought passengers to Cold Spring. The summary of fees collected last year provided at Tuesday’s meeting indicates that docking fees were also paid for the empty boats.

Seastreak’s trips to Cold Spring originate in New York City and New Jersey. Boats leaving New York take about an hour and a half to reach the village while trips from New Jersey take an hour longer. Officials said that they have received positive feedback from passengers regarding the cruises to Cold Spring.

Visitors have about three hours to explore the village — and some have commented that they would like to have more time in Cold Spring. Seastreak is also considering options such as guided tours of the village as a way to ease the burden on restaurants that have been inundated with customers from the boats all at once. They also said that while fall is the best time to visit Cold Spring they are considering adding a Saturday cruise on summer weekends. Last year boats arrived on both weekend days throughout the fall season with Saturday cruises being considerably more popular.

Rec Commission, easements and grant applications

Cold Spring’s Recreation Commission has been operating with five members, two shy of the number required by the village code, an “oversight that was never corrected,” according to Falloon. Trustees opted to appoint two new members rather than amend the code. Falloon pointed out that docking issues now fall under the commission’s mandate.

Trustees approved an application by the Historic District Review Board for a Certified Local Government grant of $17,000 to update the historic preservation section of the Village Code along with design standards that apply within Cold Spring’s Historic District. A revised $75,000 grant application to New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) will also be submitted. Those funds would be used to update the Village Code, bringing it into compliance with the 2012 Comprehensive Plan.

The draft application will be written to exclude 25 NYSERDA recommendations that Village Attorney Michael Liguori said prove prohibitively expensive. Trustees and Falloon have stated a number of times that if NYSERDA were to make the recommendations mandatory, the village would not accept the grant.

The board also approved easements with a number of Market Street property owners. The easements are required in order to complete repairs to the pumping station in that area. The facility has been subject to flood damage in recent storms.

Two trustees were absent from Tuesday’s meeting — Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell due to illness and Hustis due to a schedule conflict.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

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9 replies on “Diagonal Parking Proposed for Main Street”

  1. Thanks to Michael Turton for keeping us up-to-date on current events in the People’s Republic of Cold Spring. I see that the village officials are at it again, trying to find new and better ways to put the Main Street merchants out of business.

    They claim to want to solve the parking problem, yet somehow managed to put up No Parking signs in the wrong place so that we actually lost spaces. Then they came with the idea of ass-backwards diagonal parking that will result in the loss of a dozen beautiful trees so that we can gain a dozen new spaces. Is that how it works around here? Each parking space equals one tree? I guess it makes as much sense as anything else they do. Meanwhile, all they’d have to do to immediately create 12 new spots would be to re-paint the existing spaces and make them smaller to reflect the actual size of most of the cars.

    But nothing can compare with their determination to tax the Sea Streak and its companion vessels so that it will no longer be worth it for them to come to Cold Spring. I knew the boats had helped us, but I had no idea that they had brought over 3,000 visitors/shoppers to our stores! It was like Christmas every weekend they were here and for many of us, it made the difference as to whether or not we made any money in 2013.

    As far as the trustees’ idea to do a per-capita hit on the passengers, I’d like to remind them that the Village is not Disneyland or even an amusement park for which you can charge admission. In fact, if these geniuses keep it up, and business owners decide to vote with their feet, there will be nothing here to bring tourists in the first place. Maybe that’s what the some of the natives want — a dark place with no lights, an unpaved Main Street made of dirt and boarded-up buildings where there were once businesses.

  2. Part of the charm of Main Street Cold Spring are its wide sidewalks with lovely shade trees. To change any part of this for 12 parking spots makes no sense to me. Why don’t we better use the resources we all ready have to improve parking issues? For example, use the “trolley to nowhere” to provide transportation from the train station parking lot or municipal parking lot to Main Street and back. The trolley could even bring visitors to West Point Foundry Park. Perhaps working with St. Mary’s Church to see if they would be interested in working together to make available some of their Main Street property frontage for additional parking — they have often stated they did not have enough money to pay for lawn mowing in the summer months. Regardless of the solution, the village should use what they already have more effectively before shrinking sidewalks and killing trees for more vehicle-accessible pavement.

  3. Sacrificing street trees and pedestrian space on Cold Spring’s pedestrian-heavy Main Street to gain a dozen parking spaces may be the stupidest idea I’ve heard in the 15 years I’ve been here. I can’t believe anyone would think that is a good idea. I know the village has a parking problem, but there are better solutions to the problem than destroying the very reason people want to come here! Put a damn parking lot on that unlivable contaminated Marathon property already and use the trolley to shuttle the people unable or unwilling to walk the two blocks to Main Street. Or open the existing parking at Dockside and shuttle from there. That property is so shamefully and selfishly underused now (and for how many years?!), at least we should use it as the world’s most scenic parking lot and dog walk, and without investing a penny in it or (heaven forbid) disturbing a stone on that sacred brownfield.

  4. For those of you who do not know me or our Village board, if you took the time to contact us instead of complaining to The Paper maybe you could be part of the solution. Patty, you know better — I have sent many e-mails to you trying to make things better. And the Sea Streak was at the meeting to discuss where the perfect solution is so we do not price them out of our village. The comments were very clear that the merchants need the Sea Streak.

    1. In response to Mayor Falloon, I am glad to see that you read and take to heart the comments of the residents and other stakeholders who live here and/or have businesses in Cold Spring. I honestly believe you are a decent man who is trying to do the right thing for Cold Spring and to “make things better.” I also understand that when it comes to your Board of Trustees, you have only one vote, just like the other members.

      You said in your comments that “if you took the time to contact us instead of complaining to The Paper maybe you could be part of the solution.” I would suggest first of all that one of the most wonderful and fascinating things about this community is the degree of engagement of the citizenry and the tremendous amount of robust public discourse that takes place on virtually every aspect of governance.

      Free speech is one of our most precious rights that is rapidly being eroded in some areas; we should applaud anyone who takes time out of their busy day to make a comment here or in any other forum. For whatever reason, not everyone feels comfortable contacting their elected officials or showing up at endless meetings which as you yourself know can be pretty frustrating not to mention time consuming. (I say this as someone who’s been politically active for the past 25 years during which I’ve attended countless meetings in every venue on every topic imaginable.) Even though I would love to do so, I simply don’t have time to go to the meetings in person, and I am grateful that I can find out all this information by reading about it.

      As far as the other issues you and I have been involved with, i.e. the sign on Route 301 and the street lighting, I have found you to be responsive and engaged. Your help and support was and is invaluable as we saw when it came to dealing with the various bureaucracies that were involved in getting the job done.

      Apparently the street light issue is not a new one and I’m finding out more information (thanks to what I read online) all the time about what’s been done in the past. I sincerely hope that this year we finally get to the point where there is some kind of harmonic convergence and everything comes together so that we can do something to take advantage of the funding and programs that are available. New and improved energy efficient lighting has the potential to re-invigorate our beautiful Main Street for everyone’s benefit.

  5. The Special Board parking working group (2008) considered many options for improving the parking situation in the village, balancing the need for walkability, safety, aesthetics and potential revenues and costs. That group rejected diagonal parking on Main Street because it would require narrowed sidewalks and the loss of street trees, while recommending that it be considered for the Haldane ballfield lot on Morris Avenue, and the Drug World lot on Chestnut.

    The main benefit of back-in diagonal parking (in the CHA proposal) seems to be the addition of 12 spaces on Main. The Parking Working group made many recommendations to improve access to parking on Main, almost none of which have been adopted (the now-popular parking waivers for businesses is the exception). The simplest is to simply eliminate parking space lines except where they are needed to delineate a driveway or handicapped parking space, a technique that typically adds about 15 percent to the capacity of a street (this is because vehicles today vary so much in length — from SUVs to minis). Since there are 99 spaces on Main Street between 9D and the tracks, the Village would gain the dozen spaces just by eliminating those lines. I have asked the Trustees several times why this is not at least tested, and have never received a serious answer.

    The great puzzle is why the Parking Working Group’s work has been so comprehensively ignored. We did a careful analysis of options like putting parking on Marathon (a bad idea, rejected as long ago as 2003 by a respected planning firm, Shapiro & Associates), metering parking on Main Street (an excellent idea that would not just increase access to spaces but yield well over $100,000 in net annual revenue to the Village), changing parking requirements for businesses to reflect shared use, and so on.

    The Parking Working Group’s 2008 study was not superficial: we actually counted spaces in large sections of the Village, and computed the occupancy rates at different times of day, weekdays and weekends — and made the resulting data available to the Village as spreadsheets. It is not clear to me that CHA is even aware that this exists.

    I am, by nature, an optimist. I find it hard to believe, though, that this board is serious about implementing real solutions to the community’s parking problems when it shows not the slightest interest in acquainting itself with the most in-depth and careful study of the issue ever completed.

  6. Here’s a parking solution for Cold Spring: turn the former Marathon Battery site into a solar parking lot. Could also install some charging stations for electric vehicles. Businesses and communities are doing this all over the world. To see some examples, google solar parking lot images.

  7. The village board is serious about parking in the village. Parking meters is a controversial issue just like dissolution of the village government, which I was crucified for in 2012. If people don’t want parking meters or diagonal parking, don’t shove it down their throats. Let them live with the current conditions and move on. When major infrastructure projects come up, let them find the revenue needed to make sure taxes don’t skyrocket like they are right now. There needs to be a thorough study as to what people are getting for their tax dollars in service and see if it makes sense. Put all cards on the table and make the best hand possible.

  8. Although I don’t think that diagonal parking is a great solution to the parking problem on Main Street, I’m pleased that an idea was floated by Mayor Falloon and the discussion has been kick-started again. Sometimes it’s good to take a chance, throw out a concept and let folks respond. Creative problem solving comes from noodling over a bunch of ideas, ditching the lemons, and focusing in on the viable options. But I do hope we’ll strive to save as many street trees as possible regardless of the parking remedy — the aesthetic value and shade they add to Main Street are invaluable.

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