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December 13, 2012

Paid Parking Law hearing is next week

By JIM AUSTIN
Cooperstown Crier

---- — The board of trustees will hold a public hearing next Thursday on a local law that would authorize paid parking on Main and Pioneer streets in the business district.

This time there will be no lengthy schedule of sometimes contentious public meetings about the issue. Instead it will be limited to a single public hearing.

“The law is out there on the website,” Mayor Jeff Katz said Monday. “It will be a regular board meeting and a regular public hearing and everyone will have a chance to speak. I think a regular meeting should be sufficient. I hope that is the case.”

Previously the board received some vehement, vocal opposition to paid parking, but trustees can now point to the success of paid parking in the Doubleday Field parking lot. The push for on-street paid parking is also being driven by the 2012 infrastructure report form Lamont Engineers that said the village should be putting aside almost $900,000 per year to keep up with required street maintenance.

“The establishment of on-street paid parking in certain key areas provides a means for those who visit the village and use the roads to contribute to the cost of street upkeep,” the recommendation from the streets and buildings committee stated.

Katz said most of the feedback he has received has been positive, but has also heard some negative comments.

“The job of the village board is to balance the interests of the community,” he said.

The board debated time limits for parking during its November meeting and decided to begin with two-hours and allow for the purchase of additional time.

“It can be tried for a year,” Trustee Lynne Mebust said during the discussion, adding that the board learned a great deal during the first year of paid parking in the Doubleday Field parking lot.

Both 15-minute and handicapped spaces will be exempt from any parking fees.

The plan calls for the use of pay and display machines like those used in the Doubleday Field parking lot.

The committee also recommends the revenue generated by paid parking be earmarked for the streets reserve fund.

The public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, in the village meeting room.

The full text of the local law is available on the village website at www.cooperstownny.org.

During the meeting, the trustees will also get a first look at a draft version of proposed changes to the zoning law covering tourist accommodations.

The draft is the work of a committee made up of the mayor, the chair of the economic sustainability committee, the zoning enforcement officer and the chairs of the planning board, zoning board of appeals and the historic preservation and architectural review boards.

“We know what we have on the books is not working as well as we would like it to,” Katz said.

The changes, he said, are in part an effort to get a better handle on what’s going on in the village. It would require that tourist accommodations be registered with the village and undergo inspections.

“I don’t think it’s too onerous on our part,” Katz said. “It’s a much more sensible, rational way of looking at it.”