Downtown Building Owner Against Proposed Parking Changes
A downtown building owner is against the proposal to remove the two-hour free parking spaces to make them metered.
Earlier this month, Peter Miraglia, downtown building owner, said in an correspondence to the Jamestown City Council the number of people coming downtown will decline if the two-hour free parking spaces are changed to paid metered spots.
“I believe the high rate of utilization in the free zone is partially created because the spaces are surrounded by pay parking, and not necessarily by demand created by businesses in the zone,” he said. “I believe utilization there will drop significantly if it becomes metered, and that overall visits to downtown will decrease.”
Miraglia also said the proposal by city officials to raise metered rates from 50 cents to $1 an hour won’t help businesses downtown.
“Raising rates does not seem reasonable based on supply and demand,” he said.
This is not the first time Miraglia has discussed his disagreement with how the city regulates downtown parking. In November 2015, he presented a report to the council on downtown parking. Between May and August 2015, Miraglia said he conducted 17 surveys of on-street parking, surface lots and the three downtown parking ramps. He said there are 168 on-street free parking zones that were filled 67% of the time during weekdays. The two-hour metered parking 447 downtown were utilized 32% of the time and the 12-hour meters 256 downtown mainly along Fourth, Fifth and Sixth streets were only used 8% of the time. He said of all the on-street parking spots downtown, only 33% are being used.
Miraglia, who owns 106-110 E. Second St., also known as the Chautauqua Music Building, has been a downtown building owner for 19 years.
“I’ve heard a litany of complaints about downtown parking. I’ve heard many local people repeat that they will not come downtown because of the difficult parking situation. Complaints tend to center around feeling pressured and the fear of being ticketed,” he said in 2015.
Miraglia’s tone hasn’t changed in the last five years by stating earlier this month that he believes one of the largest obstructions to a prosperity for businesses downtown is the parking situation.
“In the almost 20 years that I have been actively involved downtown, I have felt that the parking system has been downtown’s greatest impediment to growth,” he said.
“When I visit very active and successful downtowns like Saratoga Springs, and Owego, who offer free on and off street parking, I wonder why Jamestown continues to make coming to downtown so challenging.”
Earlier this month, the council discussed the most recent proposed parking changes downtown. Marie Carrubba, Ward 4 councilwoman, asked if the increase will deter people from using parking spaces downtown, which could possibly hurt businesses if fewer people are downtown. She understands the need to increase revenues, but she doesn’t want to discourage people from parking downtown.
“I just have concerns for business owners downtown,” she said.
Kim Ecklund, At-Large councilwoman, and Vickye James, Ward 3 councilwoman, both said they are concerned about increasing the cost by 100%.
Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said one of the reasons for the proposed increase is the new app-based payment system that will be available once smart parking meters are installed. He said the company that operates the app-based program charges 35 cents for each use. He added most cities that have app-based programs have increased its parking meter costs because of the higher transaction fee.
The council also discussed a proposal to eliminate free parking zones downtown. Ellen Shadle, city principal planner, said there are 150 free parking spaces downtown. She said the city is losing out on $234,900 in revenues if each of the free parking spaces is used six hours a day. She said the city would receive an additional $156,000 in revenues if the free parking spaces are used at least four hours a day.
The council didn’t vote on the proposed downtown parking changes during its October voting session meeting so they could continue discussing the issue.