Plattsburgh businesses weigh in on anticipated parking crunch

Published: Sep. 11, 2018 at 4:45 PM EDT
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Parking in downtown Plattsburgh is about to get trickier. The city is closing the city's largest parking lot to make way for a new development. Despite a new parking study, it's not clear tonight how many of those 300 spots will be replaced elsewhere in the city.

"I personally think that it's going to affect business for everybody. It's going to be a deterrent for people to come down town," said Peter Kritziotis, the owner of Aleka's Restaurant.

Plattsburgh released the latest recommendations for the future of the Durkee Street lot and public parking at a recent city council meeting. Kritziotis is one of several business owners that expressed concerns.

"I'm not sure if they've actually thought it through all the way, and I'm not sure if they are thinking about the businesses and the people that live downtown, and the patrons. I'm not sure if they are actually thinking about them and maybe more they're thinking about is how to generate income for the city," Kritziotis said.

The parking study recommends a two-tier parking rate. Hot spots around the city will be more expensive. Side streets off the main drag will be cheaper. The city also will bring back parking enforcement officers to encourage turnover of spaces.

"Probably not a bad thing, we probably do need it. That being said, if you go from no enforcement to all enforcement at once, people are going to be thrown off by that," Ryan Demers with the North Country Food Co-op.

City Councilors say they want to make sure that doesn't happen, so they will start sending flyers to residents before the change goes into effect. There's also discussion about giving discounted parking passes to residents and downtown employees.

"I would hope that all of downtown would be taken care of kind of all at once -- businesses, residents, employees -- there was to be a plan to help everyone. And the paid parking thing -- I don't know if we are ready for that yet," Demers said.

The co-op is across the street from the Durkee Lot. Demers says they understand change is coming, but they want to make sure the city has thought about all its options. "The issue we still have is those plans that I've seen haven't yet answered the main question of having adequate parking for the co-op close by for the customers to rely on to get there groceries, get the bags and go home," he said.

City officials admit there are still a lot of moving parts, like what the rates and duration will be for the metered parking. Regardless of those details, the Durkee Street parking lot is still going away to make way for a state-funded revitalization project. Construction begins in May 2019.