By Hillary Harvey
In conversations around the City of Kingston, parking is a hot topic.
Uptown, there was a debate around Mayor Steve Noble’s plan to increase parking costs and add meters to municipal lots where there previously had been none, with business owners countering the plan by advocating for free parking. Meter increases went into effect just recently, and parking kiosks are already showing up near their intended municipal lot. In an effort to compromise, the city is also offering parking permits for frequent users of the City of Kingston’s municipal lots. Purchase a parking permit in advance of the installation and activation of new payment stations in six of the City’s municipal lots costs $10, and the permit is valid through December 31, 2017. VIEW
In Midtown, there’s ample parking, according to the city’s consultant for the Comprehensive Plan Zoning subcommittee. And the conversation has pretty much ended there.
In the Rondout, conversations around lack of parking have been amplified by large-scale development projects. After Smorgasburg’s epic first day opening last year, a second entrance for traffic flow and further development of venue parking at the Hutton Brickyards is expected. The Irish Cultural Center aims to heavily lean upon on-street and municipal parking around its site on Abeel Street and the West Strand. Months ago, the Building Department and Corporation Counsel introduced a zoning amendment to allow parking as a primary use, so that the ICC and others can develop private parking lots on non-contiguous property they own in residential neighborhoods.
As part of their ongoing work to address parking issues in the City, Mayor Noble appointed a parking workgroup. Their meetings, however, are not open to the public and, as we understand it, because it is a subcommittee rather than a board or commission, the workgroup is not required to take or share notes, minutes, or agendas from their discussions.
One visible thing that has come out of the workgroup thus far, however, is a series of three community forums on parking. Scheduled in each of the three sections of the City of Kingston, each event will begin with opening remarks from the Mayor, and then the public will be invited to work in small groups to discuss issues, concerns, and ideas in depth.
According to the city’s press release, a tentative agenda for each evening is as follows:
Concerns and ideas expressed at these forums will be documented by staff and volunteers. The Mayor will meet with the City’s Parking Work Group in mid-September to discuss the outcomes of all three forums.
Communications Director, Megan Weiss, said that the city has reached out to “Whoosh”, the parking app which facilitates virtual meter payment and monitoring by municipal parking users, to attend the parking forums and help users set up and understand how to use the app system. Thus far, Whoosh has not responded to the invite, but the parking forum may be a good opportunity to ask informally for help.
CALL TO ACTION:
Attend any or all of three community forums on parking, and offer questions, ideas, and concerns around parking issues in the City of Kingston.
REQUEST that the parking work group be required to publish agendas and notes/minutes of their meetings for the public to review and to follow along.
Wednesday, August 30th at 6pm
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Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center
300 Wall Street
Thursday, August 31st at 6pm
VIEW Facebook Event
Kingston City Hall
Wednesday, September 6th at 6pm
VIEW Facebook Event
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
— Hillary Harvey is a photographer and writer, and a zoning code activist, working for transparency and responsible development that considers the welfare of residents and small businesses. Together with her neighbors, she runs Grow the R-T Responsibly a neighborhood collective dedicated to that cause. A yogi and devoted traveler, she lives in an old house in Kingston’s historic Rondout district with her college sweetheart and their three muses.