PLATTSBURGH — As the new year approaches, City Police are warning downtown drivers to abide by city parking laws.
Newly hired Parking Enforcement Officer Tori Prinson has been placing fliers on windshields of vehicles parked downtown, alerting motorists that enforcement is being stepped up.
Formerly a Department of Public Works employee, she now earns her pay under the Police Department's budget, Police Chief Levi Ritter said.
The fliers Prinson is distributing describe a warning period of informal parking tickets beginning on Monday, Dec. 10, and lasting until Thursday, Jan. 3, when, as of that date, formal tickets will be issued for parking violations.
They are similar to a document recently circulated the internet, Ritter said.
"She's not been putting them out just arbitrarily," he said. "They've been taking down plate numbers to make sure that they're not bombarding the same vehicle.
"They're trying to be judicious about putting those fliers out, while still trying to get as much information out there as possible."
In the midst of launching downtown revitalization that, with the proposed development of the Durkee Street parking lot, will eliminate hundreds of parking spaces, the city is looking at how to replace those lost spots.
The city is buying the Glens Falls National Bank property on Margaret Street for a half-million dollars, intending to raze the structure to create a parking lot there, but other solutions are under consideration, too.
A paid-parking system is under study as well.
The increased enforcement, a social media post from the city said, "is part of a larger effort to increase parking availability during key hours for patrons, residents and visitors."
Prinson is based out of City Police Department's new Community Center, located at 79 Margaret St.
"Whether she is on patrol or at the center, she will answer your questions," the flier says.
At their Oct. 25 regular meeting, the City of Plattsburgh Common Council approved Ritter's request to sign a lease for the approximately 2,100 square-foot downtown space with rent costing $1,200 a month.
The monthly expense will be fully funded though asset-forfeiture funds.
Officers set up shop on Margaret Street shortly after Nov. 1, the police chief said, and celebrated with an open house the weekend of Dec. 1.
The Police Department's lease with landlord Robert Garrand is in effect until Oct. 31, 2019, and, thus far, Ritter said, he's liking the second access point.
"We've gotten a lot of positive feedback from it," he added.
When pitching the downtown center to council members in early October, Ritter had said the location would allow the department's night officers to expedite the low-level misdemeanor process.
Though this hasn't been utilized much yet, Ritter likes that officers have the option.
"The initial thing that we're actually doing now is interacting with the downtown businesses on a daily basis and then trying to build relationships with the college and their intern program," he said.
"That's my next step in getting another layer of the center operational."
AS IF FOR REALThe warning tickets that start on Monday are educational and not actual citations, Ritter emphasized.
"How it's going to be handled is, (Prinson) will be using the same enforcement procedure that would take place were actual parking tickets to be issued," he said.
"That requires her walking the entire area, recording the plates of vehicles parked in specific spaces and then returning at the two-hour mark to determine 'Is this a violation? Is this not a violation?'
"We're trying to be judicious with the fliers — that would only make sense for informative purposes," Ritter continued.
"But if we're trying to educate people by giving warning tickets, it would make sense to give them every time they are actually doing the infraction."
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