The following is a second open letter to Mayor Steve Noble and the Common Council of the City of Kingston, NY from the signatories of the Kingston Free Parking petition. Read and sign the original open letter here
Dear Mayor Noble and members of the Kingston Common Council,
We’re writing to respond to your call for a re-vote on bonding parking kiosks before a parking work group can be assembled to discuss alternative options.
While we knew on January 10th that the issue would eventually come back for re-vote, we were encouraged by your announcement that you’d be forming a parking work group to hear voices from more stakeholders and consider more options.
We didn’t think it would happen before the work group was formed. Your deadline for applications for the work group is February 10th. The re-vote is February 7th. This seems counter-intuitive at best, and like lip-service, at worst.
When we met with Alderman Koop, he said he is committed to the kiosks and the timeframe for voting on them because they are a factor in passing and balancing the city’s budget. We believe there are other places the money could come from, and would like to tell you about them.
We feel it's important to point out that Ward 2 contains the greatest number of businesses and residents who will be most unfairly taxed by metered municipal lots. Most of the residents and business owners located in Ward 2 were left out of the conversation.
The following is a list of our grievances and concerns:
Paying lip service with no real intention of working with us:
In your newsletter, you announced a 10-member work group for which he’s accepting applications , but the application deadline is February 10th--three days AFTER the February 7th do-over vote is to be held on bonding the kiosks. This seems at odds with your stated intention of working with the community to build a parking plan that works for everyone.
There are other creative solutions not being considered:
One of our members came up with a creative alternative in which city residents with cars would pay just $50/year for a parking pass that would make it so we could offer free parking to visitors and patrons of our businesses throughout Kingston. Some members of the Common Council found it intriguing--one found it intriguing enough to change her vote. We would like to see the work group consider this and other alternatives BEFORE kiosks are voted on and ordered. Listening to constituents & working together with our creative community to problem-solve a more equitable solution for all is the mark of a truly progressive government.
Something doesn’t add up:
We wonder who is benefitting from the purchase of the kiosks, which you seem to be eager to push through very quickly, without much logic.
The $10 temporary bandaid:
The $10 parking passes for the municipal lots are a temporary bandaid, good only during the 8 months of April to December of 2017. This isn't a long-term nor thought-out solution for those who deal with the parking nightmare in Kingston. We cannot be appeased by a temporary bone in the form of a reduction in parking costs for a mere 8 months. The implementation of parking permits has not been thought out, and in the face of a parking shortage, the proposed changes are likely to create chaos and confusion.
Who owns the parking and where does the money from parking go?:
If these changes in parking fees are meant to put the burden on those who use the parking most, then let us be a part of the conversation around how to fix the parking situation, and then return the parking money to the communities from which it came instead of the Kingston general fund.
When businesses succeed, we all succeed!:
We feel that parking in business districts is part of city infrastructure, just like public schools, road repairs and bus service. Many of us who do not have children in school pay school taxes, because it’s good for the city to have good schools. The price of a bus ticket pays for only a portion of operations, and we all subsidize the rest with our taxes. It is good for the city to support its businesses with affordable--and some FREE--parking. If those businesses fail, the city fails. When those businesses succeed, as they have been lately, everyone benefits. Property values rise.
Create a welcoming experience for visitors to Kingston!:
When visitors to the city and patrons of our businesses are repeatedly met with now $25 parking tickets from over-zealous parking enforcement employees, it makes them want to shop instead in more parking-friendly towns like Rhinebeck, Woodstock, and Hudson.
Resting the parking burden solely on the people in the business district where many pay much higher taxes for commercial properties ($18 for every $10 paid by a residential homeowner), and where many of the businesses and organizations and artists are driving the city’s revitalization is unfair, and divides us in a way that is contrary to the goals you express for having “One City.” The parking fees are also applied consistently across parkers, with no adjustment for means to pay for parking.
We hope you will consider these concerns, and put a pause on the re-vote until after the work group has had time to consider more options.
Kingston Free Parking
Sari Botton, Uptown Kingston Resident, Business Owner Kingston Writers’ Studio Located on Fair Street in Uptown Kingston
Brian Macaluso, Uptown Kingston Resident, Business Owner Tech Smiths Located on North Front Street in Uptown Kingston
Maria Philippis, Uptown Kingston Resident, Employer and Property Owner Boitson’s and Kovo Rotisserie Located on North Front Street in Uptown Kingston
Theresa Widmann, Uptown Kingston Property Owner and Business Owner Anahata Studio Located on North Front Street in Uptown Kingston
Tarah Gay, Employer and Business Owner Outdated Cafe Located on Wall Street in Uptown Kingston
Dan Stone, Uptown Kingston Resident, Employer, and Property Owner, Evolving Media Network Located on Wall Street
Steve Lieber, Uptown Kingston Resident
Cassandra Currie, Uptown Kingston Resident
Kevin Paulsen, Uptown Kingston Resident
Joe Concra, Uptown Kingston Resident, Building Owner, Artist, Executive Director of O+ Positive
Denise Orzo, Uptown Kingston Resident, Artist, Co-founder of O+ Positive
Eric Francis Coppolino, Longtime business owner and resident of uptown Kingston, Internationally published horoscope writer
Joe Cohen, North Front St business owner and property owner
Ernie Saker, Owner of Saker Guitar Works on North Front Street
Julie Griffin, commercial property owner and resident on Clinton Avenue
Sean Griffin, musician, commercial property owner and resident on Clinton Avenue