Village, property owners reach compromise on parking

Parking (2)The village has agreed to make concessions to its winter parking ban in an effort to appease Main Street business owners and landlords who said the law left their patrons and tenants nowhere to park.

The board of trustees agreed to permit overnight parking on Fosdick Alley.

But whether the concessions prove to be enough for local property owners is yet to be determined.

“It remains to be seen,” Dana Grant, president of the Chamber of Commerce and a Main Street property owner said when asked if he was pleased with the village’s decision. “I thought they skirted around it.”

Norm Durkin, who owns a building at 126 Main Street, was unsure if there is enough parking on Fosdick Alley to accommodate everyone who is looking for parking.

“I think that’s part of the solution,” said Stephanie Safka, a member of the Chamber of Commerce. “They can’t reinvent the streets but they seem willing to sit down and discuss it, which is all you can ask for.”

Motorists are prohibited from parking overnight on any village street and any municipal parking lot. But those restrictions, particularly the ban on parking in village lots, drew the ire of local property owners who turned out in droves at last week’s monthly board meeting to protest the ban.

More than a dozen property owners, including officers and members of the Whitehall Chamber of Commerce, expressed their frustration with the ban and the perception that the village was enforcing the ban in parking lots after years of turning a blind eye.

Several property owners said they or their tenants received warnings earlier this winter for parking in lots after years of never receiving one. One of those warnings, which was typed, included an additional hand written note that read “This includes all village parking lots.”

“Why now? It seems like it came out of nowhere. It just seems very sudden,” asked Bethe Reynolds.

Brenda Woodruff, who along with her husband, Stan, has owned a building on Main Street for the past 10 years, said she too didn’t believe the ban had been enforced in the past. She said she feared the ban could push ouT tenants if there was no parking available for them.

“The laws have been there,” said Mayor Peter Telisky. “I’m sure it was enforced in the past but maybe not as strong as they are now.”

The law is used primarily to ensure the Department of Public Works can clear snow and clean and sweep streets each spring. The ban prohibits parking on all village streets and municipal parking lots from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Nov. 15 through May 15.

“The spirit of all this is the village needs to maintain the streets and parking lots in a way that minimizes our liability and the only way to do that is to make sure they are clear,” Telisky said.

Officials said there a lot of layers to the law and it has been expanded and revised several times over the last 70 years.

Both sides exchanged ideas how the matter could be resolved.

“I thought the village listened and that’s good,” Reynolds said. “I thought it was productive.”

Telisky said a permanent solution is ultimately up to the property owners.

He warned them the solution may not be permanent and future boards would have the authority to override the exclusion if they see fit. He said the property owners need to develop a solution and suggested they purchase additional property that could be used as a parking lot.

Don Williams, Superintendent of Public Works, offered to allow motorists the opportunity to park overnight in the lots so long as they moved their cars by 5 a.m. during snow events, but the board didn’t fully endorse the idea.

Instead they will allow overnight parking on Fosdick Alley through the remainder of the winter. After snow events, motorists will be asked to move their vehicles in a timely fashion so village crews can clear the alley. Once it’s been cleared they will be able to move their cars back.

Officials are expected to examine all of the village’s parking laws in the coming months and hope to create a single law later this year. They invited residents to participate in that process.

 

In other matters, the board accepted the resignation of Tom Ruby from the Whitehall Police Department. He will continue to work for the Village DPW.

It also tentatively agreed to turn over any unexpended funds from the Skenesborough Volunteer Fire Department to the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Department so long as the former department’s debts and bills were paid.

The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Candice Bulmer from RCAP Solutions will be present to discuss a survey the organization will conduct in the village.

 

 

 

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