Katie Sims / Sun Staff Photographer

The Ithaca Board of Public Works decided to add an all-way stop to the intersection of Cascadilla and Cayuga streets (above) at its Monday meeting.

November 28, 2017

Public Works Board Debates Ithaca Parking Rates

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On Monday evening, members of Ithaca’s Board of Public Works decided to install a stop sign at the intersection of Cayuga and Cascadilla Street and approved the placement of a mid-block pedestrian crosswalk nearby West State Street.

However, most of the meeting centered on a debate concerning proposed parking rates.

Josh Lower, who was born in Ithaca and is now involved with property management and development within the city, expressed his opinion concerning parking rates to the board.

“I think a lot of our problems can be solved with correct pricing of goods and services,” Lower said. “Based on what I see in the marketplace and the availability of parking spaces, they need to be adjusted upwards and I, as a resident of the City of Ithaca, support the increase in rates.”

David West, also an Ithacan resident, discussed the city’s policy revolving around the number of required paid hours until rates are dropped.

Currently, select locations in the city charge vehicles one dollar per hour for the first seven hours and, after those seven hours, parking is free.

According to the plan to rework parking rates proposed by Frank Nagy, director of parking, beginning on Jan. 1, residents could park their cars for 12 hours at the Seneca, Green Street and Cayuga Street garages instead of just seven under the current rules.

“Why would we want to encourage people to stay more than seven hours?” West asked. “I think it makes a lot of sense to keep charging them a dollar an hour.”

He also raised the question of local versus student rates. He said he does not believe that students should be charged half of what locals are paying for parking.

“We are not exactly short on demand for parking downtown,” West said. “If we could charge them [students] the same as we charge everybody else, that would make the most sense. There is no reason to give them the sweetheart deal.”

Michael J. Thorne, superintendent of the Board of Public Works, said that there are still many concerned parties and strong opinions about the adjustment of parking rates in Ithaca.

“We are looking at doing more comprehensive studies and coming up with a detailed analysis of why we can justify some of these higher rates,” Thorne said. “We have to do it in steps because it’s hard for businesses that are used to paying a certain rate as a part of their business model. We can’t just disrupt that.”

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 explained that one potential solution for the parking problem is to continue investing in transportation services such as the TCAT bus system.

His idea was that if the TCAT system worked more frequently and efficiently, the need for parking could be largely reduced in the coming years.

He spoke about the TCAT system’s impact on Cornell’s campus and said that these services could possibly be extended to more locations within Ithaca.

“Cornell is extraordinarily successful in reducing the number of cars that come to its campus,” Myrick said.

Myrick also said that the TCAT’s constant circulation throughout campus not only reduces the need for students to park on campus, but also in Collegetown and the Commons.

The Board chose to postpone the decision until further notice.