Letters: Dismayed at Suggestion to Sacrifice Trees

Like Barry Wells, who wrote last week, I’m also dismayed by the mayor’s suggestion that we add 12 parking places to our busy Main Street by sacrificing 10 trees. As a part-time resident of this street (front apartment over the Silver Spoon), who enjoys and depends upon one of those trees for necessary shade all summer long, I’m especially opposed to this idea, but the big picture is the main issue here: 10 fewer trees is 10 times less the shade, charm, and attractiveness for all Cold Springers — residents and visitors alike. Why bother to add parking if we’re at the same time turning the place into a concrete wasteland that no one would want to spend time in anyway?

Jacqueline Foertsch
Cold Spring

5 thoughts on “Letters: Dismayed at Suggestion to Sacrifice Trees

  1. Right on point. Surely creative minds can produce a more creative solution than turning Main Street into a parking lot. First, be sure to find a place where merchants can park, other than in front of their own shops. Next, find another spot or two to open a parking lot – back by the battery-plant, for instance. Then, put up good signs to show visitors where the parking is — beginning with signs directing them to the MTA lot for free weekend parking, and with good signs showing them the shortcut to town. We rarely have parking issues on workdays, I would think, and we have massive free weekend parking (with trees already removed) just down the path and across the railroad overpass. Keep the trees!

  2. I agree with many of these suggestions, but others need more thought: Realistically, the Village will not be able to persuade merchants to park other than on Main Street, unless incentives are brought to bear — like metered parking (metering could also — potentially — give the merchants an economic incentive to open up some of their many spaces located in their own lots just off Main — spaces which you may notice are almost always empty on busy weekends) . While we should avoid trying to solve our parking problems by paving over more ground — we have about 2,500 spaces already in the Village — the ground we do decide to sacrifice to parking should be carefully chosen.

    In my view, Marathon would be a bad choice. That is also the considered opinion of the planning firm that advised Philipstown, in 2003, on its Comprehensive Plan — they called using Marathon for parking a “mirage.” The combination of limited access, poor visibility from Main Street, and uphill distance from Main Street, make it likely that paving over part of Marathon to solve the Village’s parking problems would be a big disappointment.

    Much more promising is to locate parking on the east side of the Metro North Station, immediately to the south of Lunn Terrace. This would absorb commuter demand on weekdays, and be a shorter walk to Main for visitors on weekends. This was recommended in the 1987 Master Plan, and revisited by the Special Board’s Parking Subcommittee in 2008. And yes, you are right to point out that demand on weekdays is much lower — the 2008 Parking Committee actually computed what percentage of spaces were occupied at different times and days of the week, and published a spreadsheet with block-by-block statistics. Your observation has been thoroughly validated, street-by-street. I doubt much has changed. Finally, I completely agree with your observation that simply improving signage would be a big help.

  3. Merchants should not need any incentive in parking on side streets. If there is not visible or obvious parking for customers, they cannot/will not shop. When 10 merchants park their cars on Main Street, that’s a minimum of 10 fewer shoppers for that day. The only incentive they should need is a greater chance of foot traffic. If parking is too far from the shops, people will choose to shop elsewhere.

    Just to point out – many of the spots that are behind the buildings on Main Street are reserved for tenants of the apartments and many merchants may not have a parking spot in their lease meaning they likely can’t park in those lots.

  4. I certainly agree that logically merchants should not occupy spaces that customers could use, but the fact is decades and decades of making that argument have resulted in absolutely no improvement to the situation. People (even including merchants) aren’t always logical. At some point, repeating the argument is just a way of pretending you’re doing something, not fixing the problem.

    Meters were developed in the mid-1930s not to raise revenue but to make spaces available in shopping districts. They worked. Because they worked, they spread like wild fire. The old lollipop meters had a couple of flaws, one of which is that they are mechanical devices that require a lot of tending. They handled just coins, which meant that as inflation robbed the currency of value, the real cost of parking at a metered space dwindled. The new muni-meters address these issues, and can allow pricing for spaces that changes with time — so crowded periods can have higher rates than slower times.

  5. Antonia is correct — it’s a big mistake for merchants to park in front of their shops, and it’s been a pet peeve of mine ever since I opened my own store on Main Street. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to ask certain people, other business owners, to move their cars from the prime parking spaces so as to leave room for our customers.

    They just don’t seem to understand how much business we lose if there’s no place for shoppers to park. To add insult to injury, there seems to be little if any enforcement of the parking rules, such as they are, by the local, part-time police officers, even though some of the merchants insist on leaving their own cars in front of their establishments all day, even on the busiest of summer Saturdays or Sundays.