Committee suggests Cold Spring monitor it for a year
After months of discussion and revisions, a plan to curb Cold Spring’s often chaotic parking situation on weekends on and near Main Street is in the hands of the Village Board.
Jack Goldstein, a member of the six-person committee that drafted the plan, outlined its final recommendations on Tuesday (Aug. 3).
The influx of spring, summer and fall visitors to Cold Spring in recent years has produced traffic jams, frustrated drivers who must circle in search of parking, short tempers and idling, polluting engines.
The plan’s core recommendations are essentially the same as in earlier drafts:
- A residential parking permit program on 11 streets east of the Metro-North tracks;
- Paid parking on Main Street via a smartphone app from the traffic signal to Depot Square, as well as at Mayor’s Park and the municipal lot on Fair Street;
- Designated free parking areas;
- Reserved parking on The Boulevard and Kemble Avenue for business owners and employees; and
- An extensive campaign to inform the public about the new system.
After recent public feedback, the committee made revisions that included:
- Limiting metered parking on Main Street to weekends and holidays;
- Eliminating paid parking within the residential permit zone; and
- Allowing renters in the residential parking area to obtain parking permits
“There will be personal inconvenience for some individuals, but that must be weighed against the benefits to the quality of life for the community as a whole,” Goldstein told the board. “There is always that balance at work.”
He urged the board to give the plan a chance by monitoring its impact for a year. “If it’s not working to the level you hoped, take input from the public again and modify it as needed,” he said.
Goldstein said residential permits will require flexibility. More permits will be printed than there are spaces because, he said, there is no way to know how many residents who qualify will ask for one. A resident may have off-street parking, for example, or a family entitled to two permits may only need one.
He noted that, under the plan, visitor and daily permits for service workers will be available at the village office.
Goldstein said one of the challenges in drafting the plan was the divergent interests that it must serve, including residents, property owners and renters inside and outside the residential permit zone, as well as business owners, workers and visitors. “They are groups with very different points of view,” he said.
He stressed that for the plan to be successful, people will have to “buy in to it,” and, in some cases, change their behavior. He cited shop owners and their employees who have taken Main Street spaces, a habit, he said, that “ought to be curbed because it is unproductive for the overall economic viability of the village.”
Goldstein said the route from the proposed owner-worker parking areas to Main Street takes four minutes. “We don’t see this as a terrible burden,” he said. “But it will make an enormous difference in terms of parking space availability and turnover on Main Street.”
He conceded that the change will be less profound for newer residents than for those who have long enjoyed free parking 24/7. “If I lived on Main Street, on Friday night I would move my car off Main to one of the free spaces on a nearby side street.”
The discussion on Tuesday included the possibility of the village entering into agreements with towing companies for the removal of vehicles guilty of serious offenses, such as blocking a resident’s driveway. “None of this works unless there is a commitment [by the village] for stronger enforcement,” Goldstein said.
A resident with public relations experience has volunteered to help with a public information campaign and the Chamber of Commerce will create a page on its website to explain the system.
“There will need to be a wake-up call from the village that this is a serious matter,” Goldstein said. “If we don’t begin to gain some control, it will simply be chronically chaotic the way it was last year. This is a moment when the village has an opportunity to move forward on this previously elusive problem.”
Mayor Dave Merandy asked the trustees “to digest this for a bit” before a workshop is held to consider the plan in detail. The board can accept, revise or reject the recommendations.
In addition to Goldstein, Merandy and Deputy Mayor Marie Early, the parking committee included Rebeca Ramirez, Dan Valentine and Evan Hudson. Its recommendations are posted at coldspringny.gov.