PLATTSBURGH — Pay-to-park kiosks could cost the City of Plattsburgh $400,000, or more. 

The Plattsburgh Parking Advisory Committee released a request for proposals in search of such systems earlier this year. 

At their July meeting, the committee said they had received three responses.

Those came from IPS Group Inc., Access Technology Integration Inc. and Integrated Technical Systems Inc.

According to committee member and City Councilor Patrick McFarlin (I-Ward 5), each company suggested around 50 to 60 kiosks, priced at $6,000 apiece, plus additional expenses.

"There's a bit of sticker shock," McFarlin said at the latest Parking Committee meeting.

"These are incredibly expensive."

SELF-FUNDED SYSTEM

The 2018 Common Council created guidelines for the Parking Committee upon its November approval. 

Among other reasons to form the committee, the resolution said, one was the council's commitment "to create a self-funded paid parking system." 

Meaning that, by way of funds collected via downtown parkers, the paid system would intend to pay for itself. 

Such a system had been a recommendation in the February 2018 Carl Walker Parking Study, too. 

That study had cited other options to accommodate parking needs in support of developing the Durkee Street lot, including required use of the harborside lot and a city-funded parking system. 

But the Parking Study had classified the former as having poor customer service and the latter as being financially infeasible.

The idea to create a paid-parking system would have "high levels of customer service and (have) revenue to help cover costs," the study said.

KIOSK BOUNDARY

At their March meeting, the Parking Committee brainstormed requirements for the potential parking kiosks.

Among discussion of software and accepted currency, committee members debated where those kiosks would sit. 

Per another council requirement, the committee is to also mull the elimination of the Special Assessment District.

Property owners within that district's limits pay fees based on their building's square footage and that cash funds basic maintenance, snow/ice control and the utilities of city-owned lots.

Should that district be eliminated, the Parking Committee had determined, to offset a potential loss of revenue, the kiosks should be situated within that downtown area. 

And so, the parking-kiosk barrier featured in the request for proposals had included the Special Assessment District boundaries, as well as both ends of its outermost streets.

The request had also included the potential to expand over to Miller Street between Cornelia to Lorraine streets.

'STARTING SMALL'

But to cover that full boundary, the kiosk companies had informally quoted the city at that $400,000-plus. 

Committee Chair and Director of Community Development Matthew Miller said the cost had left room for more discussion. 

"That begs the question," he said at the meeting, "do we want to roll it out on a smaller scale first? Maybe 10 or 20 kiosks at a time?"

Deputy County Administrator Rodney Brown, who also sits on the committee, was in favor of that. 

"I like the idea of starting small," he said. 

And, Miller added, that avenue would have another benefit. 

"We can study the effects of kiosks on a small part of the downtown," he said.

"That will better inform future decisions we make."

NOT NEEDED

But not all Parking Committee members are on board with paid-parking system.

Dr. Kate Mahoney-Myers has been vocal in her opposition and, upon her own volition, created the change.org petition "Keep Downtown Plattsburgh Parking Free!"

Mahoney-Myers finds fault with the February 2018 Carl Walker Parking Study.

In her opinion, because the study had been completed before the city began enforcing downtown parking laws in late 2018, it had lost some merit. 

If a parking study were to be done now that laws are enforced, she said, it would reveal that the city doesn't need paid parking.

Other committee members disagreed, citing a projected $80,000 worth of parking ticket fines that City Police Chief Levi Ritter said are expected to have been accumulated by the end of 2019.

TRY THEM OUT

Of the three proposed parking kiosks, committee members said there weren't many differences. 

"The functionality from company to company was largely the same," Miller said. 

And, Brown added, because they were all so similar, he'd be OK accepting any one of them. 

"I would like to use one of these kiosks to see how user-friendly it is," he said. 

The committee voted to invite all three companies to bring a kiosk to the city, in order to do just that.

 

Email McKenzie Delisle: 

mdelisle@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle