Village zoning committee expanded

By Michael Turton

Main Street Cold Spring will soon take on a slightly different look. At its July 24 meeting, the Village Board approved a pilot project to remove the lines that delineate parking spaces along the south side of the street.

The move came at the recommendation of the Parking Committee chaired by Trustee Cathryn Fadde. Studies have shown that the number of parking spaces can be increased by 15 percent if individual parking spaces are not marked. That could hold true on Main Street where currently the length of parking spots varies considerably.

Fadde said that the lines marking 53 spaces on the south side of Main will be blacked out for a 90-day trial period. During that time Parking Committee members will conduct a count to assess the effectiveness of the strategy. Lines will remain intact on the north side of Main Street.

Fadde has also contacted New York State Sen. Terry Gipson regarding state approval for resident parking permits. The state legislature is not currently in session and Gipson’s office indicated that January would likely be the earliest that such an initiative could be addressed. Mayor Ralph Falloon wondered if a pilot program for the permits could be initiated — without state approval. Village Attorney Mike Liguori quashed that idea. “They (the state) occupy the field,” he said. “You can’t usurp that authority.”

Standing boards added to zoning committee

The yet-to-be-formed committee that will update the Village of Cold Spring zoning code will consist of seven members rather than five as originally discussed. The update is being funded through a $75,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The grant application had recommended a committee of five, however since being elected, Trustee Michael Bowman has argued consistently for a larger group to include representatives of the village’s standing committees.

At the meeting, Bowman suggested a nine-member committee but after a brief discussion trustees agreed to a seven-member committee that will include representatives from the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and the Historic District Review Board. In addition, one member of the Village Board will serve as a liaison to the new committee. Only six residents have indicated interest in serving on the committee. A second call for volunteers has been issued.

Treatment plant gets upgrade

Trustees heard details for the $1.6 million upgrade of the aging sewage treatment plant on Fair Street. Bart Clark, an engineer with Oakwood Environmental Associates, outlined the project, which will include construction of a new building, upgraded electrical system, new generators and a new “fine bubble” aeration system. The project replaces equipment that was installed more than 40 years ago. It also alleviates serious “life and safety issues” while producing long-term savings through the reduced operating costs that the new system will ensure.

Clark “optimistically” estimated that approvals from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Putnam County, required before construction can begin, will take about two months.

Superintendent of Water and Sewers Greg Phillips addressed complaints he has received in recent weeks regarding discolored tap water in some village homes. Phillips said that the discoloration is caused by a combination of warmer water temperatures this time of year and water lines that are 150 years old. “It is an aesthetic issue — not a health issue,” he said.

Phillips said he could begin flushing water lines on side streets but there was “no guarantee” that the measure would eliminate the problem. Since the meeting, flushing has been initiated on Garden Street and other side streets. Trustee Bowman commented that despite the complaints, village water is “a million times better than a year ago.” A major cleaning and relining of the water main beneath Main Street was undertaken last year.

Sign of the times?

An ongoing discussion of the local law governing temporary signage in the village continued, in particular regarding a collection of signs found on Chestnut Street at Main Street. The village has received complaints about the signs however, it is not in a legal position to act. The section of the Zoning Code dealing with signage was struck down in a 2005 court case and the law contained in Section 104 has never been rewritten.

The signs near the main intersection are likely unlawful even without the Village Code since they are on land believed to be part of the Route 9D right-of-way where signs are prohibited. Makeshift signs are also sometimes found in the other parts of the village. Trustee Stephanie Hawkins suggested not prohibiting such signs outright. “We should take some time to look at how the community is using such signs,” she said.

Falloon asked trustees to submit their thoughts on acceptable size, materials and location for signs. The board’s collective response will be forwarded to Village Attorney Liguori who will rewrite the local law. Jennifer Zwarich was in attendance and said she sees no need for change. “As a resident … I really enjoy the signs … as long as (they are for) a non-profit. I have no problem with them,” she said.

At their July 29 meeting trustees continued their review and approval of suggested changes in building department fees as recommended by Building Inspector Bill Bujarski. In addition, Putnam County has handed over responsibility for inspecting and approving gas hookups within the village.

An interview with a candidate to fill a vacancy on the village police force that had been scheduled for that evening was postponed by Deputy Mayor Bruce Campbell. Mayor Falloon was absent due to his work schedule.

Behind The Story

Type: News

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

Turton, who has been a reporter for The Current since its founding in 2010, moved to Philipstown from his native Ontario in 1998. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Cold Spring government, features

32 replies on “Cold Spring Main Street Parking Lines to Disappear”

  1. Great idea to remove the parking space lines. They are huge ticket magnets now. The village should consider investing in computer-run meters. Payable by cash credit or debit, it would produce income, limit abusive parking and insure spaces for all. Parking is a privilege, not a right. If I still lived in the village, I’d volunteer to serve on the committee. Parking in Cold Spring affects everyone.

  2. Putting parking meters in on Main Street could hurt the businesses. Who wants to pay to park to grab an ice cream or a slice of pizza? An alternative option, the Village could put in a gravel parking lot on Kemble Avenue (Marathon Battery) property or the old Dock Side Parking Lot and charge by the hour or day. With very little effort, the Village could generate some income with very little start up costs or maintenance.

    1. Parking meters, properly priced, have proven themselves since 1935 to be an effective way of creating access to parking. As to hurting businesses, everyone says they are being hurt today by lack of access to parking. Isn’t it about time we tried something different? Something, for example, that has actually worked in tens of thousands of communities worldwide?

      The suggested solution of adding more parking on the Marathon site is a poor one, for several reasons. First, that property is out of sight of Main Street, and as such is unlikely to be successful in taking the overflow from Main. If it were successful, it would just further clog the narrow one-way access streets, Rock and Kemble, with traffic. Second, Marathon is private property, and surely the owner should be able to expect to make better use of the land than to park cars there. Given Marathon’s location within a few minute walk to the Metro North Station — in fact, the entire community would be better off if it could be used for homes.

      Dockside is owned by the State of New York, and devoting it to parking is one use I can guarantee they would not tolerate. The Cold Spring Special Board made and vetted with the public detailed recommendations for acceptable uses for Dockside (see the Local Waterfront Revitalization Strategy, at the Village Website), and parking (except for a handful of spaces) is not among them.

      The idea that we can pave our way out of our parking problems has long been discredited, after doing great damage to many urban areas. Philips, Preiss, Shapiro, the consulting firm that prepared the 2003 Pointers For Economic Development for the the 2020 Philipstown Comprehensive Plan, called putting Main Street overflow parking at Marathon a “chimera” — and the Cold Spring Special Board voted to include those comments in its recommendations for the Marathon property.

  3. First, the lines have been blacked over, so they are shiny and still look like lines. And I wonder if anyone has given thought to the idea that without lines, many people have a tendency to park in ways that take up two or more spaces… We shall see!

    Meanwhile, I hope thought and effort are being directed toward the common-sense side street solution of residents’ stickers. On my block, where few residents have driveways, and where the signs “limit” parking to five hours, at least 15 spaces are used daily by commuters and the employees of neighboring businesses. Hmmm?

  4. There has to be a multi-layered approach to the parking problems within the Village.

    Installing parking meters on Main Street isn’t the sole solution. For approximately eight months a year we have more vehicles than spaces. The parking meters may generate some revenue (TAX) for the village, but it doesn’t create more spaces to park in. Visitors and residents are more likely to leave the cars in place and feed the meter if there is enforcement. When I go to NYC and I find a spot to park in, I pay the meter and leave it there for the entire day. I don’t move my car because the time ran out. I feed the meter.

    I can tell you that I would be less likely to do business on Main Street if parking meters are installed. Have you thought about what happens to the side streets off of Main Street? Vehicles will park on the side streets to avoid paying the meters! Good luck the homeowners finding parking on Fair, Garden or Church Street when meters are on Main.

    I’m aware that the Village does not own the Marathon or Dockside property. Maybe the Village could work out an agreement with the NY State and the Marathon owner to use a small portion of the property for parking on a trial /seasonal basis. With proper signage, additional spaces could be used as an overflow lot easing Main Street and side street congestion.

    My suggestion with Dockside the property is to work out an agreement with the State. Use the existing parking lot that was in place when it was a restaurant (no paving) this would certainly help provide additional spaces. The eagles, fish and the environment wouldn’t be harmed in any way. It actually may help the environment because the cars wouldn’t have to drive in circles to find a space without a meter. The existing areas being used by dog walkers and the outside movie theater wouldn’t be impacted at all.

    The Village could charge a fee for the spaces at both locations and generate revenue and help resolve the parking problem. There would be no need to pave our way out of our parking problems, because the space already exists.

    I’m not sure what authority the Special Board has over any of these issues. I would think the actual authority falls with our elected officials.

    I’m definitely up for trying something new and different, but I am looking to come up with a reasonable solution with minimal expense to the taxpayers to resolve / ease the parking problem for visitors / tourists but more importantly the village residents who are forced to deal with this issue every weekend. How much did it cost the taxpayers for the consulting firm to give their recommendations for the Marathon property?

    1. Yes, installing multi-meters on Main Street won’t solve all of the Village’s parking problems. No one has ever claimed that they would. The Special Board studied parking and made several other recommendations — such as eliminating the space lines on Main to boost capacity (now being tested), adopting a system of parking waivers so businesses would not be automatically constrained by parking requirements (implemented several years ago), encouraging private lot owners along Main to open some spaces in their lots, reconfiguring some lots to make them safer, improvements in winter parking, and so on.

      Meters, when properly priced, are highly effective in creating access. Saying that you, one person, just pay the meter and let your car sit all day in the city says absolutely nothing about the impact on access, on average, over the whole population of drivers over the course of days or weeks. Meters are effective — they really work. Slapping them with the label “TAX” is an invitation to stop thinking about how the logic of markets can be made to serve the public — a very conservative idea, by the way.

      The question of what would happen to parking on side streets if meters were installed came up in 2008. The answer, as then, is that parking will be no worse than it is today, because on busy weekends the side streets are already packed. We have hard data to show this — actual counts of occupancy. Meters do offer, however, a long-term hope for fixing the problems on side streets. If they can be proven successful on Main Street, at some point in the future, it might make sense to install them on the side streets, as well. The problem is that a system of permits (or some sort of Parking Benefit District) would have to be established for residents of the side streets, which would be very different from the existing residential permits west of the tracks because the exemption would be for metering — for which there is no legal precedent in New York State, at least of which I am aware.

      It would be fair to ask, why not exempt Main Street residents from meters, as well as residents of side streets? The reason is that Main Street is predominantly a business district, and the Village has a vital interest in improving access to spaces to improve business. A healthy Main Street boosts property values and the quality of life of the entire community.

      As to Dockside, the property is owned by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It would be a fool’s errand for the Village Trustees to try to negotiate to use Dockside for parking, especially since the State can read for itself the Village’s 2012 Comprehensive Plan and 2011 Local Waterfront Revitalization Strategy and see that this is not wanted by the community.

      The consultant recommendations on Marathon, regarding Main Street parking overflows, were made as part of the Philipstown 2020 plan, in 2003. Complaining about the expense of recommendations you don’t like is a pretty weak rebuttal.

  5. I’ve been shopping in Cold Spring for over 30 years and have had a shop on Main Street since early 2012. Almost all the problems with parking occur on the weekend as during the week it’s very, very quiet. One thing I’ve noticed in the past couple of years that really infuriates me to no end, is the number of business owners who themselves insist on parking on Main Street right in front of or near their own shop, because they are too lazy to park and walk from somewhere else.

    Example: There is a certain person near me who either parks right in front of her shop, or if a space isn’t available, parks in front of my store. I have tried to speak with her about this to explain that she is not only hurting her own business but also the rest of the merchants nearby, but she couldn’t care less because, guess what? There is no penalty, no fine, no consequences for her bad behavior. And believe me, she is not the only owner who is guilty of being so inconsiderate — there are several others who are notorious for doing the same thing.

    I don’t know why the very expensive police department can’t be prevailed up to start giving out tickets like they used to. Let the cops start putting chalk on the tires and enforcing the existing laws. If they want to make more money, then raise the fines accordingly. Also, my suggestion is to double or triple the fines for any store owner who parks illegally on Main Street. I think you’d be surprised at how many spaces that would free up for visitors, not to mention the additional revenue.

    1. Others have also observed that many (one estimate is that up to half) of the spaces on Main Street are taken by business owners and their employees. The question is, what can be done about it? What can be done that will work?

      First, we all know that just asking doesn’t work — people have been asking, pleading, demanding, for years for owners and their employees to stop parking on Main Street. Perhaps in a better world, they would change their ways. But we must live in the world as it is, and must concede that jawboning is just pretending to do something.

      Better enforcement? The village has gone through cycles of enforcement — and that, too, doesn’t work for long. Chalking tires, checking them after four hours, is too crude an enforcement procedure on which to hang heavy fines. Enforcement of parking time restrictions by chalking tires is terrible nationwide.

      The solution is muni-meters. Enforcement of violations would be supported by a printed time receipt, no arguments. Enforcement of time restrictions improves greatly with meters, and makes it cost-effective to pay for extra patrolling. Something else to consider: booting of scofflaws is likely to be more effective than stiff fines, especially if the booting is heavily publicized.

  6. If there are available parking spaces on Main Street that are not designated (e.g., handicap spots, etc.), then I believe that anyone who has a valid driver’s license and drives a motor vehicle or motorcycle has the right to park in an available spot. Parking spots are there for people to park their vehicles and go and enjoy our village.

    I applaud the parking committee for trying something outside of the box to tackle the big issue of parking. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with this experiment, either it works or it doesn’t.

    The cops on the weekends do mark the tires and walk up and down the street because I see it myself. Some merchants complain about the enforcement because they feel it chases tourists away. If you park in a parking spot that has a designated time slot and you go over and get caught, then you pay the fine. Case closed! That is our vehicle-and-traffic law working and we have a court system that holds those violators accountable.

    I for one support parking meters on Main Street because outside of revenue generation, whatever amount of money comes in from it, you force the turnover of spaces. You can’t please everyone in the world and sometimes the village has to look at the big picture because the village has infrastructure costs in the future and where is the money coming from? One can’t rest hope on grant monies because you may wind up with the state not having available funds. Money talks.

  7. I think your first sentence about multi-meters sums up my point! I clearly understand that you are in favor of multi-meters, hiring consultants and looking to pack more vehicles on a street that is already congested.

    Is your “idea” to resolve the lack of parking spaces on Main Street to install multi-meters on Main Street and eventually on the side streets as well? How does this improve the quality of living for the Village residents?

    Paying to park is a tax. I don’t know if it’s a conservative idea or not, but I don’t think that parking is a political issue at all. Parking impacts us all no matter what your political views are. It’s simple; I feel that most village residents don’t want to pay to park in their own town and installing meters may hurt business and our quality of life. Just because the Special Board hired a consultant who studied parking and made recommendations, it doesn’t mean that they are speaking for the entire village. It’s just the opinion of the Special Board.

    I was offering a potential solution to the problem at minimal cost and impact to the daily lives of the village residents. You are offering consultants, Comprehensive Plan, Waterfront Revitalization Strategies. Our debate is about “parking” and it is up to our elected Village Officials to decide what direction to go with parking.

    As the Village of Cold Spring becomes a popular tourist destination there has to be space to accommodate the volume of vehicles. There is a way for the Village to financially benefit from the increase of vehicle traffic without hurting their residents.

    My idea is to negotiate parking spaces in a very small portion of the Marathon / Dockside sites and charge a small fee to park. More than likely the fees collected will be from vehicles from out of town. Your idea is to install multi-meters on Main Street and eventually side streets and charge everyone a fee to park.

    I completely disagree that it would be a fool’s errand for the Village Trustees to negotiate a small portion of the Marathon / Dockside sites for parking. If is saves the village residents from having to pay to park in front of their own homes it is worth a try. I would rather see parking fees collected on vehicles from out of town in designated lots rather than on our village residents being hit with a daily fee to park in front of their houses or apartments.

    The village residents deserve a better solution than putting meters in front of their homes! After a year of parking fees, ask them if it feels like a tax! How much of the village taxpayer money was spent on the consultant?

    1. Muni-meters are part of the solution, not the whole solution, because parking is a complicated issue. It is important to understand the basic facts about parking in the village, which were determined by a subcommittee of the Special Board in 2008 — and which have likely not changed much since then.

      The statement “For approximately eight months a year we have more vehicles than spaces,” is simply not true, not even close to being true. The Village has an overall abundance of on and off-street parking spaces (excluding driveways), about 2,500 of them. You can get a sense of that abundance by observing what happens when the village “fills up” with cars at a big event like the 4th of July fireworks. Drivers find spaces and park several blocks from where they are going. As Tom Rolston memorably put it, “We don’t have a parking problem in the Village, we have a convenience problem!” The Special Board’s subcommittee counted cars and spaces and determined occupancy street by street at different time periods and days of the week — a far cry from a half-baked claim about there being more cars than spaces in the Village for eight months of the year (based on what?).

      The consultants I quoted, Philips, Priess, Shapiro, did not work for the Cold Spring Special Board at all, and were not paid by them to do anything. Instead, they worked for the Town of Philipstown in the course of drafting the Town’s Comprehensive Plan in 2003, as I explained. The Cold Spring Special Board’s reports and recommendations were all made in the public arena, and reflect community opinion, and the Comprehensive Plan actually has legal standing in the State of New York.

      Your suggestion that the Village set aside designated lots for out-of-towners, and that they will go there (and pay!) and forgo taking free and convenient spaces on Main Street, defies all logic. How would you identify the out-of-towners?

      The current municipal lot on Fair is a good example of what is likely to happen to any small lot on Marathon. The municipal lot has become to some degree an overflow lot for the nearby residents of Spring Brook. A Marathon lot would likely become an overflow lot for residents of Rock and Kemble and The Boulevard.

    2. For the record, the Special Board never hired a consultant to study parking and metered parking. Instead, the studies of Cold Spring parking were completed by an appointed working group of unpaid volunteer residents in 2008, well before significant state funding for the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program finally began to flow in 2010.

      The parking working group, made up of six or seven residents, carefully briefed themselves on parking issues — what worked, what didn’t. The working group reviewed the reports of parking consultants to determine how they went about assessing parking, and then adapted the best of their ideas to collect hard data about parking in Cold Spring.

      This resulted in a detailed picture of parking patterns in the village — a spreadsheet that shows street by street the occupancy at different times on weekdays and weekends. The working group recommended, based on that analysis, that the Village Board consider metering to improve access.

      The dismissal of that work as if it were the product of people who were not familiar with the village does a real injustice to residents who made the effort to become informed, and frame real solutions. To say that I am “looking to pack more vehicles on a street that is already congested” is a misreading of how metering has been proven to work to improve access.

    3. When you pay your water bill do you say that you are paying a tax? When you pay for a building permit, do you say that you are paying a tax? Most people do not — they say that they are paying a user fee. Taxes apply to everyone, and are not based on use. User fees apply to specific uses — water, a building permit — that are discretionary.

      Putting money in a parking meter is paying for the use of a parking space for a certain period of time. It is a user fee. It is not a tax as most people understand and use the word. Calling parking meter payments a tax is not only inaccurate, it is distracting because many people reflexively reject anything that is given that name. This is a real shame, because assigning a price to scarce goods — or scarce parking spaces — is one of the few ways to mediate between supply and demand. This is basic economics.

    4. The key error in Chris Davis’s thinking about parking meters sits proudly in the middle of his sentence — “As the Village of Cold Spring becomes a popular tourist destination, there has to be space to accommodate the volume of vehicles.”

      The error is the reference to space as if that is the only factor that can be managed to change the experience people have when trying to park their cars.

      He’s forgetting about time. Parking meters work subtly on the time people leave their cars in a space, so over time, more cars can use that space. This is why meters have been so successful — when the pricing is correct, about one in every seven spaces is left open even when demand is high, giving the perception that spaces are available.

      Meters are the key to taking the crowding out of parking on Main Street.

  8. Patty, I see your comments on here quite often, you are very vocal regarding local issues. While I may not always agree with your point of view, your arguments are well thought-out and intelligent. With that said: obviously the police department cannot single out one group of people and their parking habits. What they can do is enforce the current parking laws. Several tickets to the same registrant will certainly be costly for anyone. Another possibility is an increased fee schedule for repeat offenders like they do at the Metro North parking lot (run by a private contractor). Their fines increase each time a vehicle is fined. Business owners on Main Street are absolutely doing themselves no favors by taking a parking spot from prospective patrons but nothing will stop this until they start having to pay for their parking, either through meters or fines.

  9. Replying to Chris Davis’ comment about the possibility of working out an agreement with State Parks to allow parking on a small portion of Dockside: I recently read the minutes of a meeting held a couple of years ago between a representative of State Parks and a village commission. State Parks made it clear that it regards Dockside as a preserve. Sorry I can’t find those minutes now.

    Also, State Parks’ ownership interest does not pick up until approximately 50 feet into Dockside. The first 50 feet (approximately, as I am not good at estimating distance) belongs to the owner of the property on which the passive solar house is being built just east of the Dockside entrance. Her ownership interest extends to the river bank. How willing would she be to look out the window and see a bunch of cars every weekend? I dunno. Even if she were willing, I’d bet if she consulted a lawyer, that lawyer would recommend all kinds of indemnifications.

    Personally, I would hate to see any substantial degree of parking at Dockside but I realize everyone is batting around ideas trying to come up with a solution.

  10. Ann, I can see you point about the single home owner at the entrance to the Dockside property. The existing lot used by the restaurant that I was referring to is actually located in the rear section of that site around the bend on the driveway. You can not even see the new house from that section of the lot and one homeowner shouldn’t be able to hold up or delay something that has no environmental impact or change in the way this property has been used in the past.

    If our elected trustees were able to make a temporary agreement with the State, and the owner of the Marathon site, my suggestion would be to try it on a trial basis to see if this would help. The Village wouldn’t have to front hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars on multi-meters / stickers on the idea that something might work.

    1. Who said anything about “fronting hundreds of thousands of dollars on muni-meters”? The estimated cost in 2008 was about $120,000, total, for 13 muni-meters. These could be leased to average the expense over the 10-year life of the meters. The estimate of $180,000 net revenue per year accounts for the cost of the meters, as I have said before. The payback would be six to nine months, which would be more than acceptable to most companies.

  11. Mike, if the two of us debate this long enough, maybe someone from the Village Board or possibly other village residents will give their opinion on how their quality of living would be impacted by multi-meters and offer up other possible solutions. Although we have different opinions on this topic it’s always good to keep an issue that impacts us all out there for discussion.

    1. The Village had a debate and extensive discussion on the issue of parking meters in 2008. What is needed now is clear thinking rooted in facts, and the political courage to make tough decisions. The Village has lost six years of potential revenue from meters that could have gone toward buying a new firehouse, building a decent community center, or any of a number of things people say they want. We’ve had six years of complaints about how impossible it is to find a parking space on Main Street.

      Kicking the can down the road in the vain hope that someone, somewhere, will come up with a way to keep everybody happy will put us in this same place six years from now.

      1. Thank you, Mike, for helping to keep this issue in the forefront. At your recommendation I read “The High Cost of Free Parking.” The significant benefit of meters is that they keep parking rotating, freeing up space at a more rapid rate. This is in addition to generating much needed revenue for the Village. These benefits far outweigh the small inconvenience to local residents and make enforcement more efficient. Muni-meters can be programmed any way we want so that the effect on local residents can be minimal.

        I love our historic village, but we must implement 21st-century solutions to address our modern problems.

  12. I was referring to Philips, Preiss, Shapiro, the consulting firm that prepared the 2003 Pointers For Economic Development for the 2020 Philipstown Comprehensive Plan. How much did that consulting firm cost taxpayers?

    Has the parking debate evolved into a revenue issue? Who says any of the potential revenue would be spent on a new firehouse or a community center?

    The local residents may have a different opinion when they have no choice but to feed the meter. It doesn’t matter if you call it a “user fee” or a new “village parking tax.” The end result is less money in your pocket and, depending on where you live and work, it may impact you financially more than others.

    Let the Village residents decide for themselves if they want meters. When the next Village election comes around, put it on the ballot and give everyone a voice and a choice on this issue.

    1. Parking meters are now and have always been both a solution to the problem of finding a parking space on Main Street, and a source of significant revenue to the Village. The parking debate is about both, and should be about both.

      The people of the community, through their elected officials, will decide whether the new revenues are spent on a firehouse or on a community center or something else. The point is the Village has long-standing needs that are going unmet because of a lack of funds. Those needs run into the millions of dollars. This is a way — a good way — to provide a steady revenue stream to allow the necessary bonding for those capital projects without degrading the Village’s bond rating.

      Under the proposal, residents would only need to feed the meter when they park on Main Street, Depot Square, or the municipal lot, and only between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. As I have explained, if meters were to be installed on side streets, residents of those side streets should be exempt from paying the meter (this exemption is not currently permitted in New York, as far as I can tell). This is because of the residential character of the side streets — very different from Main Street itself, which is a business district. As I have also explained, the metering of side streets under those conditions would at last make spaces available — to non-residents and residents alike — on busy weekends.

      I did not raise the semantic argument about parking meters being a tax — if it is an irrelevant point, why bring it up? I do think that the distinction between user fees and taxes that fall on everyone is an important one. In the case of user fees, the end result is only less money in your pocket if you choose to use the service — take the parking space, pay for a building permit. The argument that you would have no choice but to feed the meter makes no sense at all. As I have pointed out, parking is abundant in the village, and no one is advocating that each and every space be metered. The issue of parking is all about convenience.

  13. By their very nature parking meters are a revenue issue because they do produce revenue.

    Chris Davis paints a picture of those favoring meters as waking up each morning thinking “how can we inflict a new tax our neighbors, degrade their lives and generally piss everyone off.”

    To the contrary, what those favoring meters do is wake up each morning and think “it’s well known the village needs a new fire house, infrastructure and reservoir dam upgrades — all of which will cost many millions that without new revenue sources will raise our taxes considerably. How can we generate new revenue to service the debt required to enable these projects to proceed expeditiously and keep our tax rates as low as possible?”

    In a perfect world we wouldn’t need new sources of revenue. But village taxes are high. In my opinion there’s not a lot of waste and inefficiency to go after and meters seem to be a viable and least painful option.

  14. Let the Village residents decide for themselves if they want meters. Get this issue on the ballot and give every Village resident a voice and a choice.

    I love our historic village, and I feel that putting mini-meters on Main Street would diminish our historic value.
    If you want to get funding for projects such as a firehouse, infrastructure and reservoir upgrades, put some pressure on our elected officials in Putnam County and get them to share the tax revenue that the Village generates.

    For any elected official at the county level who opposes sharing the tax revenue, vote them out! We have zero representation to take on this issue with our officials. Follow the money and you can see where it is getting spent. They toss us pennies to help with garbage pickup and we are supposed to be happy with that.

    I agree that we should look for new sources of revenue, but not at the expense of imposing new user fees / taxes on the Village residents. The Village taxes are high enough already, and asking residents to pay to park on Main Street or side streets with a user fee / parking tax is insane. We have hundreds of hikers coming into town every weekend; why not provide spaces at Mayors Park, Municipal Lot, and Dockside and let the village charge a fee to park?

    Mike, how much did the consulting firm Philips, Preiss, & Shapiro cost taxpayers?

    1. Mr. Davis seems to be obsessed with how much it cost for Philips, Preiss, Shapiro to prepare a report 11 years ago. I don’t know, and believe it would be a complete waste of my time and anyone else’s to find out. Think for just one minute about the nature of the question, which is basically unanswerable: 1) The report was prepared over 10 years ago; 2) the reference to parking meters is a small part of a much larger report, so how do you parse out the dollar value of that reference from the whole report?; (3) The report was prepared at the behest of the Town of Philipstown, not the Village of Cold Spring.

      By repeating the question over and over, Mr. Davis tries to give the impression that some valuable piece of information is being withheld from the public. The people of this community are too shrewd to fall for this well-worn rhetorical device.

      As for muni-meters diminishing the historic value of the Village, I can speak first hand to seeing them at many tiny and very historic villages in Europe, and they do not have any adverse impact at all. In fact, money from the meters helps to keep up those historic places, helps them retain their charm.

      While I might agree with Mr. Davis that Putnam County should share more of its sales tax revenue with the Village, all signs are this is improbable for at least the next few years, and when and if it does materialize, likely to fall far short of the Village’s needs. A best-guess estimate based on typical sales tax rebates to Villages of comparable size in other counties in the rest of New York State suggests that the Village would be lucky to see $100,000 per year. The Village needs many times that in new revenue to cover its capital requirements.

      The reason, again, that establishing paid lots at Marathon, Dockside, Mayor’s Park and the municipal lot won’t work to relieve congestion on Main Street is that visitors will choose to park first where it is convenient and free — that is, Main Street — since Mr. Davis propose to leave Main Street convenient and free, without meters.

      Holding down property taxes is a key goal in the Village’s Comprehensive Plan. This is so because of concern that the economic diversity of the Village could be jeopardized by rising property taxes, where people with modest incomes whose families have lived in Cold Spring for generations can no longer afford to live here. The Special Board made many recommendations on ways to enhance revenue without resorting to increased property taxes. When people oppose parking meters, I ask how they propose to pay to meet the Village’s needs. Mr. Davis’s answer is unsatisfactory, as I have shown. The Village has a great opportunity to both solve a problem with congestion on Main Street, and to raise revenue. Why is this taking so long?

  15. Here is an interesting article that was in the Poughkeepsie Journal today (8/23/14) on the problems Poughkeepsie is having with generating revenue from their meters.

    You say you want to hold down property taxes, but you have no problem imposing a parking tax on all of us. What’s next? Installing an EZPass toll booth at the traffic light?

    You are not in the majority on this, Mike. If you were, the meters would have already been installed. Put your energy on getting this issue on the next voting ballot and all of the village residents can decide which direction to go. This issue is way above the Special Board.

    1. The Poughkeepsie Journal tells us, in the article to which Mr. Davis helpfully provides a link, that the 60 meters Poughkeepsie deployed in June of this year have generated revenue (meter fees and improved enforcement income) at the rate of over $73,000 per month. At that same rate, Cold Spring’s 13 proposed meters would generate $191,000 per year — about in line with the calculations I made six years ago for Cold Spring ($180,000).

      Apparently, in projecting meter revenue, the Poughkeepsie City fathers were overly optimistic and based their budget on much more than $73,000 additional revenue per month. Because some crucial information is missing from the story – such as the number of parking spaces involved – it is hard to draw firm conclusions from the report. But remember that Cold Spring is, relative to Poughkeepsie, much more of a tourist destination, and as such is likely to do at least as well as Poughkeepsie, allowing, of course, for the difference in size.

      The idea that a user fee falls only on users (of metered parking spaces, building permits…) is straightforward. Parking in the Village of Cold Spring is abundant. Being able to park on Main Street, however, especially on weekends, is a scarce commodity. It is not unreasonable that the Village gain something of value from the hundreds of tourists who visit by putting a price on that scarce commodity. The additional income from meters — and holding the line on property taxes — should more than compensate Villagers who make the “user’s choice” to find a slightly less convenient spot off Main, or to pay a modest parking fee.

  16. There is no parking problem in Cold Spring. Let me say that again: there is no parking problem in Cold Spring. There is, to borrow Tom Rolston’s phrase, a convenience problem — for a couple of hours on weekend afternoons when the weather’s nice, it’s hard to find a spot on Main Street. That’s it. But during that very narrow time frame, there is an abundance of free parking on side streets, in the 223-spot Metro North lot (free on weekends and holidays), on Fair Street (half of which becomes a parking lot from Saturday mid-afternoon until Sunday night), in the Municipal Lot, at Mayor’s Park, by the ballfields on Morris Avenue, etc., etc. Other times, i.e., when the weather’s bad on weekend afternoons, or any time the rest of the week, there is plenty of parking on Main Street.

    What is needed on weekend afternoons is more turnover on Main Street — which smart muni-meters can encourage. There is absolutely no need for additional parking lots in the Village of Cold Spring: at the Marathon Property, Dockside Park or anywhere else. In particular, a parking lot at Dockside would be a serious misuse of precious riverfront land. I’m fairly confident that neither the Village nor the State (which owns Dockside) would countenance such misguided land-use policy.

    1. NYS Parks and Recreation’s ownership interest at Dockside commences approximately 100 feet inside the “chain entrance” where the No Swimming sign is posted. (I am not that good at estimating distances.) The first 100 feet belongs to the owner of the property where the new passive solar house is going up: her ownership interest extends to the river bank. I agree that neither State Parks, which regards its interest as a “preserve,” nor the private owner would be likely to allow a parking area on its property.

      I wonder if the weekend visitors are aware of the other parking opportunities, including the MetroNorth lot.

      It is getting insane. Last Sunday, I was heading north on Market Street planning to turn left on North Street and, yes, scoop the loop. But a woman was standing in a vacant parking spot on the right just past the new kayak place reserving it for a car that wanted to back in. But that car apparently believed it could not back in because, again it apparently believed, the car behind it — which was in front of me — was too close. So they were all waving for the first car (in front of me) to back up but it couldn’t and neither could I. By that point there were three cars behind me. Horns tooted and people yelled. What next? Fisticuffs? Is this a problem incapable of resolution? This used to be such a nice place.

  17. I totally agree with Mr. Reisman in his assessment that there is only a parking problem on weekends. As a small-business owner I can testify that it is all but dead here during the week and Saturday and Sunday are the only really busy days that justify our concerns.

    One thing that could immediately help clear up the mess would be for the police officers to get out of their cars and start walking around, directing traffic and giving tickets to those merchants and visitors who insist on going over the four-hour time limit, which is way too generous. The cops should be out there on foot when they’re really needed and in short order things could be cleaned up. Is there some reason why this hasn’t happened? Seems like an obvious solution.

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