Parking makes traditions more difficult
On Saturday June 29 we visited Cooperstown to attend and shop at the Cooperstown Antiquarian Book Fair as we have done since it began many years ago. Part of this annual visit (along with others throughout the spring and summer months) is spent eating at one of the restaurants along the main street, picking up a few T-shirts, visiting several of the gift and souvenir shops, the antiquarian book store, Saturday craft and farmer’s market, art galleries, etc.
This past Saturday was different. No more free two-hour parking along the main street. No simple intuitive parking meters either. Apparently, according to one of the shops that we hurriedly ducked in and out of, visitors have to locate a mini-kiosk and buy a ticket using a credit card. Just the sort of thing to discourage weekend day-trippers in search of less stress and bother, not more of what normally goes on during the week. In any case, as we hurried back to our car that was in a free 15 minute zone in front of a bank, one of us remarked to a shop clerk that it may not have been the actual intent of the city to discourage tourism along the main street during the summer months, but it certainly has had that practical effect. We did observe that there was noticeably less foot traffic than in years past.
All was not lost however, since on our way out of town we did stop for a leisurely lunch at a very nice lake-front restaurant that had its own parking lot.
Paid Parking entertaining topic
It is entertaining to read about the village parking issues. I believe that parking has become a moot point as there is no good reason for local residents to frequent Cooperstown from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
There is nothing to procure in the village that cannot be found more easily and cheaper elsewhere and most of the business on Main Street is aimed at the visitors who create a tawdry and unpleasant atmosphere. It is unfair that so few cash in at the expense of so many.
Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce should share the bed tax with the village rather than encourage more traffic to exacerbate the problems already here.
Saddened by paid parking battles
I have been following, with varying degrees of skepticism and sadness, the attack on the village trustees’ enactment of paid parking in downtown Cooperstown. While I will have been here 23 years this August, I realize I probably still qualify as a “newbie.”
I live on Leatherstocking, too close to Main Street to not be embarrassed at the notion of buying a permit and driving every time I need to go downtown, and I’ve never run a business, although my father was a retailer in Watertown for more than 40 years. I feel that some of the complaints, especially those that cite quotations without sources, are not only a bit premature, but inciting.
My dog and I walk around the village a good deal and I’ve made a habit of frequenting Main Street since Memorial Day. For the first week, the days between Memorial Day and the Friday that followed, Main Street was close to empty. But then the Dreams Park opened and I’ve seen very few open spaces, save Friday mornings, since then. I dare say that paid parking is not scaring away the tourists.
As far as locals eschewing downtown to shop elsewhere, which appears to have become the heart of the complaint of the merchants, that may be true, but the trustees, and of course, the mayor, have increased the number of free 15-minute spots available on Pioneer.Since my wife and I came here in 1990, two complaints have been paramount among locals; taxes are too high and “ya can’t park downtown in the summer.” Over the past decade, “the streets are in horrible shape” has been added to the chorus. The logical conclusion to draw from these three axioms is that we need to fix the streets and, since parking places are at a premium during the summer, let’s rent them instead of giving them away. This is, of course, just what the trustees decided to do.
I was heartened to read the letters from Grace Kull, Miller and Mahlum, and former mayor Wendell Tripp. The opponents to paid parking have every right to complain, although I thought there had been a time for that before the practice was implemented. And they have a right to sue, although I don’t see much of a chance of winning; the elected officials of a municipality instituted a policy under their purview, and recourse would lie in electing other trustees to replace them.
But having the right to do something does not make what you do right. As Miller and Mahlum point out, only the attorneys will profit from this, and please, this is not an attack on attorneys. As a village taxpayer (unlike many of those from surrounding areas whom I have overheard complain about this measure), I applaud anything that can bring in the much needed revenue and do it by getting the lion’s share from visitors.
But no policy is without faults, and that is why we experiment and adjust, and why I make the following suggestions:
1. While Memorial Day weekend may be too much revenue to pass up, why not suspend paid parking until the Saturday of the following weekend, or whenever the Dreams Park opens.
2. During two weeks in March (or sometime in winter), sell parking permits for $10, and advertise this fact in the Journal and the Crier.
3. Also run in the two local papers as a weekly two line public service announcement, the fact that on Friday, paid parking is in effect from noon to 6 p.m.
At the very least, let’s set aside what could become a costly suit and see what good minds can come up with.
President, Canadarago Lake Improvement Association
A non-discriminatory parking solution
It seems that the institution of paid parking on Main Street has caused such a hullabaloo because various segments of the public each feels discriminated against. So-called “locals”, which seems to encompass both tax-paying village residents and non-residents from outlying areas, are aggrieved because they now have to pay for what they previously got for free. Tourists are said to be aggrieved, not necessarily because of having to pay, but because they are befuddled by the difficulty in getting the ticket machines to operate properly. Merchants seem to feel that paid parking discriminates against them because, at bottom, they do not wish to appear to favor the custom of tourists in summer months over locals, both of whom they covet and need. To avoid that appearance, they have resorted to litigation against the village and its elected representatives.
What is to be done in the name of equal, non-discriminatory treatment of all concerned?
Each of the solutions offered to date by thoughtful and concerned commentators suffers by the requirement that one segment or the other of the public concedes its position from abolition of paid parking to retention, as is, or with some modifications. Each solution thus carries with it a discriminatory result against someone. To avoid discriminating against anyone or against all equally, the following solution is proposed.
First, Main Street, from Pine Boulevard to River Street should be permanently closed to all vehicular traffic, the roadway should be removed, and grass planted in its stead. The only movement on the new grass promenade would be foot traffic by locals, merchants and tourists alike. Exceptions would be for events such as the Memorial Day Parade, excluding of course motorized fire apparatus and other vehicles, and the annual caravan of Hall of Fame Members from the Otesaga Hotel to the Hall of Fame in horse-drawn carriages, not limousines and vans as has been the case up to now.
Removing the street pavement would have the ancillary benefit of reducing that section of the village roadways from the maintenance and repair budget. To the extent the grass needed cutting, the village need not hire additional personnel. Rather, it could allow sheep farmers to pasture their animals along the street when needed at no cost to the village.
Second, the need for parking by locals and tourists who want to visit Main Street needs to be addressed. The framework for the solution is already in place. During Induction Weekend and concert dates, village residents are able to purchase permits to park cars on their property for pay! The village could expand this program and make the permits and the fee charged applicable to the period covered currently by the $25 parking pass that can be purchased for use on Main Street now as an alternative to purchasing a ticket from the parking machines each time one wishes to park on Main Street.
If we all think about this for awhile, I am confident that with goodwill on everyone’s part, we can implement this fair and equitable solution to the general satisfaction of most, if not all, of those who benefit from contact with bucolic Cooperstown.
John A. Rudy
Flooding is inevitable with so much rain
Once again nature is wreaking havoc with our properties surrounding the lake! The amount of rain we have received in the last month is approximately 13 inches — three times the normal amount!
Unfortunately, in extraordinary circumstances like the entire Northeast has experienced over the last 40 days, there is NO solution. The issue is that there are unlimited ways water can enter the lake, but only one way out — and that one way out is very small in comparison. Water during these big events comes in at a rate seven to 10 times the rate that it goes out — hence the lake rises — a lot!
The flooding is a function of 50 square miles of funnel shaped hills draining into a 4 square mile lake, with one tiny outlet. Think of a two gallon bucket with a very small drain hole near the top. This would represent our lake and its one drain, Oaks Creek. To be made to scale, the drain hole would ONLY BE 0.02 inches, two hundredths of an inch in diameter!!! That’s about the same thickness as a penny!
During heavy rains, this “lake” would be filled by another 5 gallon bucket full of water, representing all the water flowing into the lake from the entire watershed. There is just no way the “lake” bucket can handle this larger amount without overflowing.
Some say, don’t lower the beam. The beam was actually only down for 20 days in mid May when we were experiencing a mini drought and the lake rose 3 inches. The beam has been up since May 25, allowing full outflow for the last six weeks. Some say remove the dam entirely. If the dam were holding back water from draining down Oaks Creek, you would see a higher creek level ahead of the dam and a lower level below the dam, as we do during dry periods. This is not the case now. There is one continuous flow of water through the dam and on downstream. This tells us that whatever is limiting water flow out of Canadarago is south of our dam ... basically the small width of the 7 mile stream.
We know that a few miles down Oaks Creek, where Liddell Creek comes in from the West, the elevation of the creek actually begins to rise. This means that, not only do we have a very minimal decreasing slope to encourage water to flow down the creek, but at one point, the creek bottom begins to gain elevation, causing some flow reduction. This fact has been confirmed by the Army Corp of Engineers back in 2006, and by the independent “Hydrology study” done in 2011.
There is simply nothing we or anyone else could do to prevent a major flood when we have massive rains like this. Let’s remember that we got 3.5 inches of rain — that’s a normal monthly total — in just 12 hours.
Also, PLEASE, if you are on the lake, go slowly so as to not make waves on the shore. I have talked with the state parks and recreation person in charge of the Canadarago Lake Boat Launch and requested that the launch be closed due to the high water. Please be safe during this very trying time.
Jane A. Feisthamel