Parking downtown

I went to a meeting this morning at the Beard Bldg. to discuss parking issues in downtown Cortland. Most of the 20 people in attendance were downtown business owners.

We discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the current parking program and potential changes to improve the parking situation.

The strengths included free 2 hour and 3 hour parking and an inexpensive monthly pass. Weaknesses included no day pass, employees using spaces that should be reserved for customers, availability of spots, snow in the lots, and overnight parking.

Some recommendations included a parking garage in the downtown area, paid meter parking, and paid on street parking/free parking in lots.

My recommendation came from a different perspective. If we can improve and expand public transit services in the county, perhaps we won’t need that many additional parking spaces. Parking garages are incredibly expensive, start to crumble after about 20 years, and are ugly (I think) in a downtown setting.

Parking spaces are also expensive. I found an article from 2006 (so the cost is probably higher now) that states that it costs an average of $4,000 per space to build surface parking lots and $20,000 per space for above-grade garages and $30,000 to $40,000 for below-grade garages.

In order for a developer to make money on a garage he would need to charge quite a bit for parking. Most people won’t pay that and will instead look for cheaper or free parking nearby. Then if Main Street starts to charge a parking fee, doesn’t that encourage people to shop and do their business elsewhere? I think if a solution was found for employee parking, there would be plenty of parking for customers.

Wouldn’t it be better if we could encourage people to get out of their single occupancy vehicle and instead walk, bicycle, take the bus or even carpool? Better for one’s individual health and certainly for the health of the community and the planet.

Your thoughts?




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