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Falk: ‘Parking Crisis’

Impacts All Decisions

By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal


The Freeman’s Journal Trustee Falk:  Parking is crisis indeed.
The Freeman’s Journal
Trustee Falk: Parking is crisis indeed.

Yes, Village Trustee Cindy Falk, who chairs the Streets Committee, did utter the words “parking crisis” at a Village Board meeting.
“Literally, anything we try to do as village government or a private entity within the village, parking always comes up – and not in a positive way,” she said in a follow-up interview the other day.
Whether the issue is the proposed hospital zone (she has chaired the committee developing the concept), or the new four-story hotel proposed on the TJ’s site, most of the discussion and objections will be about parking.Recent issues tackled by the Village Board include removing on-street parking from Beaver Street to make way for ambulances, only to add it back in when neighbors complained; limiting parking spaces behind apartment houses on upper Main Street to fire department use, and removing 10 parking spaces on the bottom of Nelson Avenue.

At last month’s Village Board meeting, trustees passed a resolution reminding village employees they are not exempt from parking laws after a resident sent them a letter saying parking rules were being flouted by their staff.

“It’s not a new problem,” Falk said, and to prove her point brought out a stack of past village plans, dating back to the 1962 Cooperstown Area Plan prepared by Blair Associates. In that era of Urban Renewal, the plan called for razing much of the downtown, much of that ignored.
That plan proposed not just parking in the current Doubleday Field lot, plus in Vinnie Russo’s current lot across from the fire station, but razing for parking lots all the buildings behind the block that runs from the Key Bank building to Pioneer Street.
It would have eliminated angled parking on Main Street, driven a pedestrian walkway from the Doubleday lot through the TJ’s lot (then vacant due to a fire) to Lake Street and turned Grove Street into a downtown bypass.
“Every planning process we’ve been though has identified parking as an issue,” Falk said.
The village’s current Comprehensive Master Plan, approved in 1994, reports that in the previous decade the peripheral red and yellow lots had been established, served by the trolley system, “and it’s a huge bonus.” The new plan included a parking garage where the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market is now, but it was “not implemented due to lack of public support,” the trustee said.
While she believes there is a “parking crisis,” Falk said, “I don’t want to give the impression that we’re at a breaking point.” Still, sufficient parking is necessary for a healthy community, as well as for the Baseball Hall of Fame and “a major research and teaching hospital: Everytime Bassett talks about moving something outside the village, I get perturbed,” she said.
Part of the solution is more housing, she said, to create “more employees within walking and biking distance from work.”
Other answers, she said, may emerge from the village collaboration with the Otsego County IDA and Elan Planning & Design of Saratoga to develop a community plan. She expects parking will be an issue when a “charrette week” is convened sometime in October.
Mayor Jeff Katz concurred, saying, “I can’t imagine it’s not going to be a cornerstone of feedback. Certainly, when you talk to anyone who lives in the village, visits the village, knows of the village, parking is always a major topic.”


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