PLATTSBURGH — Prime Plattsburgh LLC has added more public parking to their Durkee Street development drafts.
Community Development Director Matthew Miller said the Albany County-based group is to reveal a revised preliminary plan for that site at tonight's Common Council meeting, including an additional 20 on-site public-parking spaces.
"Prime has included at least 50 public-parking spaces on site," Miller said at Tuesday's City of Plattsburgh Parking Advisory Committee meeting. "This is an increase from the 30 spaces that they had previously reserved."
Those spots are on top of the developer's drafted public-private parking total of 369 spaces.
Other changes will also be presented, including a potential decrease in the site's number of apartment units.
The Common Council formed the Plattsburgh Parking Advisory Committee late last year to perform research and present potential parking solutions to account for the upcoming loss of the 289 Durkee Street lot spaces.
Committee Chair Miller had said the city intended to replace the necessary parking prior to Prime Plattsburgh's work at that site, but until their latest session, the Parking Committee had yet to present the council with any parking replacement options.
This week, committee members approved five suggestions — equaling some 245 parking spots — to be put forth for Common Council approval.
Those proposals included Prime Plattsburgh's 50 on-site public spaces as well as the developer's added six on-street spots to Bridge Street, as presented with their preliminary site plans in late May.
Miller, vice chair and Deputy County Administrator Rodney Brown, secretary and Downtown Revitalization Coordinator Ethan Vinson, as well as committee members City Councilor Patrick McFarlin (I-Ward 5), Superintendent of Public Works Michael Bessette, attorney MaryAnne Bukolt-Ryder and Dr. Kate Mahoney-Myers voted in favor of the plans; property owner Joseph Rotella voted against.
City Police Chief Levi Ritter, Strand Center for the Arts Executive Director Bob Garcia and persons with disabilities advocate Amber Desjardin were not in attendance.
Working with Clinton County on the reconfiguration of their existing Government Center and Oak Street lots was a third Parking Committee suggestion.
That proposal would convert 60 county-reserved spaces in the Government Center lot to public parking.
"That would reduce the demand on the surrounding streets from the county employees, visitors and jurors," Miller said. "The parking would also benefit the city for special events and evening parking supply."
Clinton County already had plans to change their lot prior to the city's involvement and have asked the municipality to cover the roughly $218,000 difference between their original plans and the updated ones.
That decision is also featured on tonight's Common Council agenda.
Other proposals approved by the Parking Committee include the 115-space Arnie Pavone Memorial Parking Plaza to sit at 25 Margaret St., and an expansion to the city-owned lot on Broad Street.
That proposal would expand that parking area by 20 feet towards the Saranac River, eliminate a small island and re-stripe the lot, adding 15 parking spaces.
Plans not approved by the committee include two options for Durkee Street.
Both would add on-street parking, but one option would keep the street operating as a two-way and the other would convert it to a one-way.
Bukolt-Ryder was in favor of postponing that Durkee Street decision until some form of a traffic study could be performed.
"Pending a determination of whether or not it's in the best interest of the community to have Durkee Street be two-way or one-way," she said.
At last month's Parking Committee meeting, Vinson unveiled informal data he had been collecting via manual parking counts.
Those counts were an effort to gather more up-to-date information since the February 2018 Carl Walker Parking Study had been completed before the city started to enforce downtown parking laws in late 2018.
The data was gathered from the city-owned lots on Durkee, Broad and Court streets, as well as the lot near City Hall Place, totaling 409 spaces.
In May, data was based off of 46 counts from various times during the weekdays between Monday, April 22, and Friday, May 10.
By the committee's June meeting, those counts extended through Tuesday, June 4, and had been upped to 75.
Like last month's figures, each lot showed lowest utilization between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. during the week, and the Durkee Street lot's peak utilization stayed at 86 percent between 2 p.m and 2:30 p.m.
But the Broad, Court and City Hall Place lots saw some changes with the added data.
All three had formerly shown over 91-percent usage from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Peak usage in the Broad Street lot remained during that half-hour time period, but dropped to 68 percent.
The Court and City Hall Place lots showed new highs of 89 percent from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 94 percent from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., respectively.
Vinson had a cause for those changes.
Instead of considering "weekday" data from Monday to Friday, it was calculated from Sunday at 5 p.m. through Friday at 5 p.m., with "weekend" data picking up at 5 p.m. on Friday and ending at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
"The reason we did that is the data kept showing different trends on the different set of times, which is not too surprising," Vinson said.
"Just anecdotally on the weekends, Friday night/Saturday evening, parking tends to trend upwards as people come downtown."
Last month there hadn't been any weekend data to present, but Vinson had gathered 22 counts by this month's meeting.
Lowest weekend utilization in the Broad and Court street lots were under 15 percent from 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and City Hall Place lot had a low of 23 percent from 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Peak utilization reached 100 percent in the City Hall Place and Broad Street lots from 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and in the Court Street lot from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The Durkee Street parking lot had a low of 27 percent on the weekends from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and a high of 59 percent from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Data, however, did not include any counts during the Plattsburgh Farmers and Crafters Market's Saturday operations in that lot from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Vinson said.
"That's a big asterisk," he said of his data. "That is just because me on a Saturday, as a regular human being, I didn't always make it out. . . so, obviously, that would send those utilization rates, on Durkee specifically, up."
City officials have said they plan to relocate the Farmers Market down to the city's harborside, just off of Dock Street by the city’s marina.
"I feel like that parking demand created by the Farmers Market would now be shifted to the harborside," Vinson said.
But a community member in attendance thought parking data collected during Farmers Market operation was vital.
To date, the Farmers Market is still situated in the Durkee Street lot without a concrete relocation plan, he said.
"Reality is, they're there," the community member told the Parking Committee. "So they should be added in and nothing should go forward until those numbers are presented."
Vinson said the request was reasonable, but disagreed with its importance.
"My counter to that is, we are looking at peak parking at 80 to 87 percent on the weekdays when parking utilization is just as high, if not higher, than on a Saturday," he said. "We would still be acquiring new parking replacement options that would still accommodate any change in demand."
And, he continued, the Common Council is to determine how much parking gets replaced, not the informal data.
"What these are doing is just allowing us better insight into the actual utilization and how the parking lots are being used."
The full parking presentation is to be uploaded to the City of Plattsburgh website.
TRIAL AND ERROR
Community member Terry Broderick wondered if the committee had thought of doing a traffic-flow study, to analyze the total impact of their new parking plans.
But Bukolt-Ryder said she didn't see traffic flow as a concern.
"When we're talking about parking, especially on-street parking, we're not really talking about changing the flow of traffic," she said, adding that Durkee and Division streets are the exceptions. "I don't think the traffic flow, per se, is worth a $50,000 traffic-flow study."
An incoming parking plan, in general, will require vigilant monitoring, McFarlin added.
"For the initial six months," Miller said, "there's going to be quite of bit of back-and-forth and trial-and-error and careful monitoring to determine what's working and what isn't."
The City Infrastructure committee plans to meet at 4:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall.
Following that meeting will be a council work session at 5 p.m. and the regular meeting at 5:30 p.m.
All are open to the public.
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