Dyster’s Million Dollar Parking Plan Would Eliminate 2-Hour Free Parking
By Frank Parlato
Today, locals and tourists alike are allowed to park for two hours free of charge on downtown streets in Niagara Falls.
Usually, they are not ticketed when they stay over two hours, since the downtown streets are usually deserted, except during the busy, three-month summer tourist season.
As part of his proposed 2014 budget, Mayor Paul A. Dyster plans to vigorously ticket people who park longer than two hours and ultimately he hopes to eliminate two-hour free parking altogether.
Dyster has budgeted parking ticket revenue to increase next year from $350,000 to $700,000, and to do this he hopes to hire a new city police officer, paid for by a federal grant, whose duty will be to enforce the two hour parking law.
“There’s going to have to be increased enforcement of the system we have now,” Dyster promised.
There will also be increased collection efforts. There are an estimated $3 million in unpaid parking tickets that have accumulated over a span of years, Police Supt. Bryan DalPorto reported to the council last week.
Dyster said he is looking into the city using a “boot-type” device that immobilizes vehicles of locals who have delinquent parking tickets, as well as a plan to seize their vehicles, towing these, then holding them until owners can pay the tickets, plus penalties, plus a fee for towing and storage.
Fees start at $25 and, if not paid within three business days, go up $10.
Additional fines are levied after that. The Dyster administration hopes to double the $25 fees for parking tickets to a minimum of $50.
Dyster also hopes to purchase license plate scanners to hunt for locals who have delinquent parking tickets.
Once they leave the area, tourists, who have been issued parking tickets are not subjected to enforcement procedures.
If he can get council approval, Dyster will eliminate the two hour free parking downtown and install meters on city streets.
The $1 million plan, recommended by Desman Associates, a planning, design, and construction administrator of parking projects, hired two years ago by the city to conduct a parking study, will privatize downtown parking.
The city will purchase new "pay and display" parking meters, which are pay machines, placed at various locations, where customers purchase tickets and display them on dashboards, to avoid getting ticketed.
The pay and display machines would be installed so that downtown streets and the city-owned Rainbow Ramp and city-owned surface lots would have them.
A private management company would collect the money and share some of the income with the city in an as yet undisclosed deal.
Dyster said the city will purchase the meters, and incur the cost of a new position at city hall - a parking director, who will oversee the company that is hired to run the metered parking plan.
In addition, Desman Associates would be hired to consult and oversee the plan’s start up for an as yet undisclosed sum.
Desman predicts the city will generate more than $1 million annually in revenue if the city hires Desman and follows their plan, Dyster said.
Dyster proposes the million to pay Desman, would come from casino revenue.
“This doesn’t cost the taxpayer anything to implement,” Dyster said, suggesting casino money is a class apart for spending purposes.
The council majority of Robert Anderson, Glenn Choolokian and Sam Fruscione voted against approving the plan without more information.
Councilmembers Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker voted in favor.
Choolokian said, if the city wishes to get out of the parking business, it can do as other cities have done and partner with an established parking company and share revenue.
“There’s no reason for us to pay a million dollars,” he said.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
OCT 15, 2013