This Tuesday the Common Council will be attempting its third vote to bond the $125,000 to purchase parking kiosks. We ask all interested parties to attend Tuesday’s 7:30pm meeting at City Hall to voice your opinion. Time is of the essence to ensure smart decisions are made about the future of parking in Kingston.
For those of you who followed this story from the beginning, you may be aware that the Mayor wisely formed a parking work group to convene and plan a solution to Kingston’s parking deficiencies. The Mayor has reviewed the 30 applicants and made decisions about who he is inviting to join the work group.
But the group is only just being formed. Now is NOT the time to be making decisions about the future of parking in Kingston by bonding for the kiosks. Let the parking work group meet and perform its duty. To do otherwise would be financially irresponsible, particularly in light of the known issues with the use of Parkeon Kiosks by other cities.
The Common Council members may not be experts on parking so that’s why we’ve taken our time to do some research for them. While there may not be a completely bulletproof system, we demand to know that the city has fully researched the issues that others have had with Parkeon and their accompanying Whoosh app, and decided that this parking system is in fact the best parking system, or to let the parking work group undertake this task.
Technology changes fast these days. Anyone with a smartphone knows how quickly new technology comes our way requiring upgrades and new installs. Sometimes these upgrades are expensive. In neighboring Syracuse, NY, Parkeon informed the city they would have to spend 2.4 million dollars to buy brand new kiosks only two years after purchasing their original kiosks from them. The company changed their communications platform rendering the credit card feature useless and turning them into very expensive coin operated parking meters. How long will Parkeon guarantee these kiosks? The Mayor is asking for $125,000 this year, but how much will he request in the next few years to replace the existing street meters throughout the city? Let’s not run the risk of additional expenses to maintain the parking technology. Let’s spend our money wisely!
The electronic kiosks are prone to failure. For anyone who’s traveled to NYC and tried to find a parking meter that works, you understand the realities of this. Wired magazine covered this issue back in 2009. This is what happens when you use technology, it’s prone to assault, whether it’s running a magnet across the electronic system or some other form of hacking. Is the City of Kingston prepared to manage this? Let’s not waste our City’s finite human resources on managing problems that we could avoid from the outset. Let’s spend our money wisely!
The Whoosh app may cause as many problems as it solves. The accompanying Whoosh app has it’s own set of potential internal malfunctions, also adding to the burden on Kingston for upkeep, maintenance and troubleshooting. Here’s just one example of what Syracuse had to contend with implementing Whoosh. Did we mention there’s an additional $.35 fee each time you use Whoosh? In case you’re not hearing our plea, let’s spend our money wisely!
Kingston does not have the infrastructure nor the financial strength of Cities like Syracuse and New York City. It’s quite possible, that Kingston does not need a parking system like these two cities either. There are other options available to our welcoming City, options that are in fact less expensive than the kiosks. We know; we’ve done the research. We are asking the Common Council to spend our money wisely and ensure that the research has been done before bonding another $125,000. The parking group's study should come first BEFORE spending tax dollars to buy kiosks. We can find a solution that we know is fiscally responsible if we spend some time working together on it.
Last week Wednesday (February 15th) several of us attended the Kingston Finance Committee Meeting, which was an eye-opening experience into how things do, or do not, get done on a local level. Several of the Kingston city Aldermen were clearly uninterested, perhaps even deaf, to the discussion we’ve asked to take place about the implementation of parking kiosks in the municipal lots. There was to be no meaningful nor cooperative discussion about the proposed parking changes. No, their decision had been made. In fact it had been made, or according to Jim Noble, should have been made, back when the budget was approved.
Our position has always been that we want Fair and Friendly parking and that those who agree with that position were not made aware of the proposed changes before the budget was passed, nor given adequate time to build their position in opposition to the changes. We felt there were voices missing to this very important discussion and worked hard to raise awareness so that all could be heard. Not all of us working for Fair and Friendly parking are going to be hit the same economically. For some, it is not a burden, but for many it will be. We volunteered our time to create awareness of the issues so that more voices could be heard. We created a website, a petition, flyered vehicles, canvassed the community, spoke with business owners, employees and visitors of Kingston and in less than a week, we had over 900 people who’d signed our petition pleading with the City to reconsider the proposed parking changes. At last month’s Common Council meeting there were over two dozen concerned citizens who spoke against the proposed parking changes with not one person present speaking in favor of them.
Despite the pleas of concerned citizens to consider some creative alternatives to the parking problems in Kingston, several members of the Common Council have taken the position that they know best, that they don’t need to listen to the constituents, that what’s done is done and everyone else should be quiet, including their fellow council members who DO want to listen, to learn, to communicate and to cooperate.
Alderwomen Nina Dawson, Deborah Brown and Mary Ann Mills all took the time to read and listen to our presentations. They heard our concerns and reached out to community members most affected by the proposed changes. Put simply, they did their job as public servants representing the interests of the people. These three Alderwomen did research after the public raised its concerns. They looked into the details of the budget and whether or not the kiosk plan was actually going to help balance it. They looked into the questions raised about why this may not be in the best interest of the city, why some are going to be hit hard by the changes and whether or not this will actually solve the city’s parking problems. They questioned the argument that the kiosks are needed to collect data, pointing out the most logical way to collect data would be to create a survey, not spend $125,000 to collect license plate information. They spoke with constituents in the area and how they might be affected by the proposed changes, and they learned that a good number of employees from the Hospital, Family of Woodstock and the County regularly use municipal lots as they have nowhere else to park. They asked questions about other parking systems that may not cost as much as the kiosks and whether or not this was the best vendor for the parking kiosks.
An outraged Tony Davis did spend time reviewing budgets and numbers to proclaim his disgust at the fact that taxpayer money had been spent to update the parking lots uptown. Mr. Davis seems to have forgotten that the meters and parking violations have been collecting over $400,000 per year since they were implemented and that all of that money has gone into the general fund. So in other words, the taxpayers didn’t have to pay for the lots; the long overdue upkeep came from revenue generated by the parking system. It’s also important to note that of the $688,989 they are projecting to collect in parking fees and violations, post expenses, a mere $100,000 will go towards the maintenance and $588,989 will go to the general fund.
Of major concern is that clearly none of this had been discussed prior to last week’s finance meeting. Where is the due diligence in the process? We trust representatives to be acting in the best interests of the community, and that means, do your research. Research several options, listen to the voices of the community, and engage in a dialogue to ensure you are making the best decision and for the right reasons. Don’t decide in a vacuum that you know what’s best for others. Don’t put the burden of balancing a budget on those who already pay more than their fair share. Don’t be unwilling to listen to others’ creative ideas. While it’s reassuring that the three Alderwomen did hear our voices and were willing to listen and question some of the assumptions being made about the proposed solutions to parking, it’s disheartening to know that we never stood a chance with several others and that no matter how innovative and inclusive our ideas or those of others may be, or how they may improve the overall economy and growth of Kingston, a majority of the Alderman will not hear us.
We haven’t given up yet, we are working with members of the Midtown and Rondout Business and Arts communities to make sure every voice is heard. Alderwoman Nina Dawson is holding a public meeting on Tuesday evening (February 21st) at 6:30pm at the Kingston Library. On the agenda is a discussion of the parking kiosks. We invite all who are interested to come and raise their voice. We will be there. We’ll be in attendance at the Common Council meeting for the 3rd time next month when this issue will once again be presented for a vote. We’ll be involved with the Parking Work Group despite the fact that its hands will likely be tied by a decision to purchase and implement parking kiosks before the group even has a chance to meet. For all of you who want Fair and Friendly parking, we invite you to join us tomorrow evening at the library and once again for the Common Council meeting!
We are asking the common council to either delay the vote on bonding the parking kiosks, or vote no on bonding the kiosks. Bringing the matter back to the table the very next month, before the new parking task force has even been established seems shortsighted and rushed. Concerns over meeting the budget that has already been approved have been cited as the biggest reason for this. We are convinced that by enacting the new increases on existing meters, the city will still meet its budget. This would allow the parking task force to be established and a couple of months to find a solution that works for us all. The current model of meters and tickets is one of force and punishment imposed on our citizens and visitors by the city. We can do better. If we work together, citizens and city together, we can meet our financial needs and create a better atmosphere and quality of life for the people.
1. Increasing EXISTING meters to $1.00 is enough to prevent budget shortfall.
A big part of the reluctance to push the bonding for the kiosks through is because of concern for the budget that was passed last fall not being met. After looking at the projected numbers, it appears that by only raising the existing meters to $1.00 per hour, we could still anticipate $608,309 - $627,991 in revenue. This more than covers the $588,989 needed for the budget, and some of the $100,000 allotted for “Const. Materials & Supplies” If we pushed the pause button on this purchase of the kiosks at least until the new parking task force has been formed and given an opportunity to find real solutions that work FOR the people of Kingston we could still be on track to meet the budget, still do whatever construction is being planned in the second half of the year, and potentially save the city money. For more information on the breakdown of these numbers please see the end of this page..
2. Alternative kiosks may be better suited and less expensive
Parkeon offers an alternative solution called “Mini park”, intended for off-street parking that the website states is a lower cost option. If we are working towards a different model of parking solution, these may be better suited. We know that 13 kiosks is only enough to put in the municipal lots. When is the city intending to replace on street parking meters? The Mayor has said the kiosks are needed because our meters are outdated, but the kiosks currently being bonded are not intended to replace those.
3. Alternative Solutions
We believe, and we think most citizens agree, that the government is supposed to work to make lives better for the people. We agree to pool our money to do things collectively that we can not individually do on our own in a cost effective manner. As the people on the ground who are dealing with this situation every day, we are telling you that we are concerned these changes will make it even harder for local business to attract and keep customers, and make the quality of life for those of us who live and work here worse, not better. We have recently declared our city welcoming and inclusive. Let’s show the world just how welcoming and progressive we can really be. Let’s change the model from one of force and punishment, to one of voluntary altruism. The 2016 budget shows that the on street meters only made $36,000 profit, while the city collected at least $400,000 in violations. We think this is the wrong model. Our experience with the O+ festival is that when we stopped setting the entrance fees and instead asked people to pay what it is worth to them, we started making more money. People freely give more than you would have asked them to, and they do it happily and without resentment.
Expanding on the idea of moving from a force and punishment (meters and tickets) based system, to one of volunteer altruism, an idea has been brought forward, and then has been expanded on to make it even more exciting and revolutionary. We could have an opportunity to create a true progressive model that benefits all of us, the citizen, the visitors, as well as the city. It is time to unite Kingston and we see this parking issue as a way to do just that. Instead of dividing us and turning outsiders away due to extra fees we have a not-so radical plan for you to consider: KPASS
We are in a new economy and recognize as entrepreneurs that some solutions have to be outside of the box. We recognize that the city government is the box. So let's work together.KPASS is based upon the simple ideas that we all want to help make Kingston the best it can be, and be a welcoming city for all tourists, residents and new business.
KPASS will achieve this by offering all Kingston City residents a chance to "Donate" to the city for a parking pass and receive so much more in return. We can also invite commuters to participate as well, increasing the potential number of passes sold. We believe that we are all the solution. If there is a little old lady who doesn’t drive and only uses her car for emergencies, she is not being forced to donate, and she will get free 2 hour parking in the event she ever does venture out. If families have multiple cars, they need not donate for every car, maybe they only get 1 pass and move it between cars. There are many options, but best of all we all get to feel good, knowing that we are all willingly contributing to the success of our city.
You receive a orange hang tag for your card and one for your wallet when you donate at these levels for KPASS. Our levels are packed with incentives that we know will lead to more revenue, increased bus ridership and a feeling of community inclusion.
- 1 Star: $50 a year permit gets you a pass to park in city lots and a two hour spot on the street
- 2 Star: $75 a year gets you the above and includes a KPASSS that will allow you to ride the Citi Bus system and the UCAT (if we get approval from the county)
- 3 Star: $100 a year all of the above plus unlimited on street parking (except for designated “prime locations” which would still be 2hr parking) and a Business district Discount Card.
- 4 Star: $150 get's you all of this and the knowledge that you are "paying forward" one spot for the city.
The Business District Discount Card will be a way to finally unite the three districts. Present your KPASS Card at any business that displays a KPASS Sticker and get a 10% discount. This will increase business and inclusion in the business district organizations from merchants.
Wait there is MORE!
All meters and parking lots become "Donation" points. Each meter is now limited to Two hours and you the visitor can pay "What it is worth" to you. Our parking "Enforcement officers" now become KPASS welcoming employees. They can chalk tires and give a first warning if someone parks past two hours in one spot. We can easily keep that plate on record and if they do it again they receive a ticket and a KPASS 10% discount card to use when they return to our welcoming city.
January 12, 2016
Dear Mayor Noble,
We are writing to thank you for listening to us and hearing our concerns about the parking situation in Kingston--and those of the more than 850 signers of our petition--even though our views differ from yours.
We very much appreciate the modification to the parking pass resolution that will now allow those residents, employees and business owners among us who need to park overnight in the municipal lots to obtain parking passes for just $10 for the year.
Although the bond measure to purchase the Kiosks did not pass at Tuesday night’s meeting, we understand that this will go back to the Council, and be presented again at a later date. As such, we appreciate your plan to put together a Work Group of residents, business owners, employees, property owners and other stakeholders to discuss plans for the future of parking in Kingston.
Several of us are interested in being included in that group. We believe that by working together to consider and understand the needs of all stakeholders, we'll be able to build a plan that works for everyone.
We know that as far as the parking resolutions were concerned, things didn’t go as you had planned Tuesday night. We would love to work with you to develop a plan we can support.
We look forward to talking with you, and working with you, going forward.
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
Jen Donovan, Kingston Resident, Business Owner LeShag Located on Fair 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
Thank you to to those who signed the Kingston Free Parking Petition!
The next important step: Calling the Aldermen on Kingston’s Common Council and letting them know how you want them to vote tonight, Tuesday, January 10th, on the matter. There’s a list of Aldermen and their numbers below. But first, an update on the situation:
In a very short time, we have gathered more than 800 signatures. We told Mayor Steve Noble about them at a meetup we held Sunday night, January 8th, at KOVO Rotisserie in Uptown.
If you’re interested in hearing an audio recording of the meeting, you can listen here:
Since then, the Mayor has proposed an amendment to his plan. It would allow “frequent users, who are often residents or employees of local businesses, to apply for a permit in early spring 2017, immediately prior to when kiosks are installed in the municipal lots. The annual permit will be sold for a modest $10, which will cover the service charges required to prepare the permit.” (more on this at the Daily Freeman) We consider this a win for our effort, as it does address one of our major issues which is continuing to provide affordable parking for those who live and work in the business districts of Kingston. However it does not address all of our concerns.
Thus, we are encouraged by this concession, but still want to keep the municipal lots free. We believe that at the very least, more time is needed for the Mayor and the Common Council to meet with stakeholders to entertain a variety of opinions and creative solutions.
We think that you should use this critical opportunity to tell your Aldermen and Mayor how you feel, both about the amendment to provide free parking passes being considered tomorrow, and generally about having metered parking in the lots for visitors who do not hold a parking pass.
If you agree and would like to help, please:
Share the petition far and wide, via email and social media. We want to get many more signatures a.s.a.p., in time for the Common Council Meeting on this Tuesday, January 10, when the members will vote on adopting the changes to the parking permits and bonding new parking meters for the municipal lots that have historically been free.
Attend the Common Council Meeting at Kingston City Hall (at 420 Broadway, across from Kingston High School) on Tuesday, January 10th. Here’s the FaceBook invitation to the event. At 7pm Mayor Steve Noble gives his State of the City Address. At 7:30, the Common Council Meets to bond the parking meters. They’ll also vote on whether to make Kingston a sanctuary city, another important issue.
Call your Aldermen and tell them how you feel. If you support the amendment providing free parking passes to frequent users of the lots let them know. If you go with us further and support a moratorium on implementing this plan or a more phased approach - ask them not to bond the meters for the lots at all. Most of all, let them know who you are and how you feel. Here’s a list:
James L. Noble, Jr.
39 Roosevelt Avenue
36 Johnston Avenue
149 Main Street
62 Lounsbury Place
76 Clinton Avenue
William Carey, Majority Leader
101 Hoffman Street
84 Emerick Street
Mary Ann Mills
61 Tammany Street
10 President's Place
Deborah Brown, Minority Leader
336 Hasbrouck Avenue