Paid parking will ruin charm
I am a seventh generation resident living in the Cooperstown area. My great, great, great, great grandfather Bartlett Rogers lived on the corner of River and Main streets by the river bridge. He was the first music director at Christ Church with Father Nash. His son Calvin Rogers was born there in 1810. The following is a paragraph from an article in the story of Cooperstown by Ralph Birdsall, which I think well-summarizes my feelings and others on the paid-parking issue:
“Cooperstown is a village of incomparable charm. There is not the like of it in all America. It has character of its own sufficiently distinctive to prevent it from becoming the leech-like community into which, though the slow commercializing of native self-respect, a summer resort sometimes degenerates, stupidly enduring the winter in order to batten up the pleasures of the rich in summer. Cooperstown is old enough and wise enough to have juster appreciation of lasting values. It has tradition and atmosphere. It is a village that rejoices in the simple virtues of life peculiar to a small community, while its fame as a summer resort annually brings its residents within reach of far influences and wide horizons.”
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Village needs paid parking
Recently, several Main Street Cooperstown merchants filed suit against the village of Cooperstown “asking for a county court judgment ‘annulling, vacating and setting aside as contrary to law’ the on-street paid-parking law that went into affect Memorial Day Weekend.”
We, as local taxpayers and residents, are open to listening to any reasonable argument against paid parking, and we are open to considering any data that suggest or prove that paid parking is a net negative for the merchants. However, we are also open to any reasonable arguments and data that show the benefits of paid parking. We are concerned for the welfare of the merchants; we are also concerned for the welfare of the local community as a whole.
If one is a village resident, the seasonal $25 parking fee is a cheap price to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in street improvements. Same for nonresidents. Do village residents and out-of-villagers see a $25 fee as an unreasonable burden when we will all get much better streets as a result of paid parking? All of us can buy a $25 season pass. Even if the village were to sell 2,000 passes, which seems unlikely, that would generate only $50,000 of the $250,000 plus projected revenue from paid parking this year. So, by supporting and encouraging paid parking, we will gain far more than we will spend.
We need better streets. If we do not generate the required money from paid parking, the money will necessarily come from higher taxes. Alternatively, we could choose not to increase taxes and continue to live with poorly maintained streets.
Maybe the dissatisfied merchants could develop and fund a local education program that promotes the benefits that everyone — locals and visitors — will realize from paid parking. Why not encourage people to support paid parking because of the benefits that we will gain?
Another thought, would merchants perhaps benefit more by subsidizing parking passes for their customers rather than by subsidizing lawyers?
Our guess is that the only winners in the recently filed lawsuit will be the lawyers — no surprise!
Thank you village trustees
This is a long overdue expression of thanks for the village mayor and trustees. Thank you for addressing the critical issues facing our village and implementing action plans to raise significant revenues to work toward solutions. Thank you too for keeping us well aware of issues that directly impact us through the new village website enhancement, public speaking opportunities at each trustee meeting, hosting public forums, newsletters and general discussions. As a resident I believe it’s my inherent responsibility to extend my own effort to be a participatory citizen and part of a larger team to support our elected representatives who lead without any financial reimbursement and contribute hundreds of hours keeping our village viable ... often without any recognition.
I’ve read and listened to much ado about paid parking but am yet to hear any suggestions that would result in raising any dollar amount that rivals paid parking without a significant increase in taxes. I hear from friends and associates throughout New York state and beyond facing challenges, including dwindling resources and visitation in their communities ... and many are considered “tourist” communities. The consistent theme I do witness among the informed populous, is keeping positive outlooks and becoming ambassadors for their community rather than pointing fingers to those perceived at fault.
Each Summer, and this is my 40th as a resident of Cooperstown, I have heard residents of the village and surrounding communities state they will not, and do not shop, in the village business district during the busy summer season. Now it seems so many say they want to shop here, but the new reason they do not is paid parking ... go figure. There does seem to be a confusion about being a Cooperstown resident and paying taxes. It’s true, many mailing addresses are in the 13326 zip code but it’s those that reside within the specified village of Cooperstown that are paying village taxes. The village is a hub for many, both residents and non-residents, and paid parking is one way to help ease the financial burden so we may all enjoy what this village has to offer.
Is Paid Parking really the cause?
I am sorry the Cooperstown merchants are experiencing a decline in business, but is paid parking really the cause? Paid parking had only been in effect from Memorial Day, May 27 to June 20, a matter of three weeks and three days, which is the time period in which the merchants claim to have lost thousands of dollars in revenue. Three weeks is hardly a fair test. The merchants blame their losses on reduced local business. Have local residents really spent that much money in each of those stores in a three week period?
But local shoppers can continue to shop without feeding the parking meters. All anyone — and that means anyone, not just local residents — has to do is purchase a permit for $25 at the Village Office and that entitles them to park anywhere they can find a spot and there is no extra charge. The permit can be used as often as desired for the time that the pay and display meters are in operation from Memorial Day in May, through Labor Day in September. From 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. there is free parking. Handicapped accessible spaces and 15 minute spaces are exempt from paid parking. Please, everyone, read that again, so that you are familiar with the rules and do not continue to promulgate false information.
I believe the disgruntled merchants are defeating their own purpose by being so negative and passing these disgruntled, negative feelings on to their customers. They are encouraging them not to use paid parking and so they are actually losing them as customers. Wouldn’t it be better if they educated themselves and their customers on the benefits of paid parking to everyone?
Mayor Jeff Katz and the village board’s Finance Committee issued a 10-point explanation of financial forces behind the decision to implement paid parking on parts of Main and Pioneer streets. This was published in the June 20 issue of the Freeman’s Journal. I urge everyone to read this. It addresses all the statements and questions that have been put out by critics of paid parking. Some of whom have been very nasty. People may disagree about an issue, but it should be done with civility.
Have the merchants thought that the decline in business may be caused by other factors, which are affecting the whole country? The economy, for instance. What about the ripple effect of the terrible storms and tornadoes that decimated so many places and left people without the money to spend on non-essentials, and so they are not traveling to Cooperstown and other vacation places, and the fact that many schools are still not out for the summer as they had to be in session later because of the days missed because of the weather? The New York Times recently printed an article about business at Barns and Noble being down 50 percent because so many people have Kindles and Nooks and are not purchasing as many books. And their sales of Nooks, which they manufacture, is not doing as well as the Kindle, which is manufactured by Amazon. So it is not just Cooperstown feeling the crunch. There are many reasons why business may not be “as usual”.
In any event, demonizing the mayor and the trustees, and making it seem as though they are putting in paid parking for their own personal gain is hurtful and insulting. And suing them because of what they have done for the betterment of the whole village is wrong, unfair and is embarrassing to many of us who live here, including some of the downtown merchants. There are some who are enlightened and foreword looking and who even have put signs in their windows offering to make change to be used in the pay and display machines. Smart move. It’s friendly and incidentally gets people into the store. Kudos to all of them. One other reminder … people can park in the trolley lots free and for a small fee take the trolley into town and ride around all day.
The unpleasantness and the suing of the village government is what is making Cooperstown look like an unfriendly place to visit and may in the long run do more harm for the merchants than good.
It is a common human trait to get used to something all of us have lived with throughout our lives. It is easy to not even notice or appreciate it over time. And so it is, living in our liberty loving country that honors through our Constitution such freedoms as freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly …
Through the Constitutions Bill of Rights we are also given protection against arbitrary searches and self-incrimination. Our Bill of Rights sets up procedures for trials, giving to all U.S. citizens the right to trial by jury, and to cross-examination of witnesses. It provides that; “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.”
Many people throughout U.S. history have sacrificed much, some even their lives, to protect us and the wonderful rights our democracy offers. It is good that we regularly remember this.
Timothy Hume Behrendt