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Pleased to Meter You

Along Central Avenue, poles for new parking meters stand like little guards for each space from Lark Street to Ontario, awaiting the installation of meters.

The new meters apparently are part of a citywide effort to alleviate some of its parking and congestion pains. The plan was passed by the Common Council at the behest of the Central Business Improvement District.

“We’re only putting meters where businesses exist now, and where it has typically always been posted one-and-one-half-hour parking,” said Robert Schaffner, head of the Albany Parking Authority, which installs and maintains the meters. “The police department prefers this because the enforcement of the one-and-one-half-hour parking is terribly inefficient.”

Parking meters usually are used to create greater turnover of spots, and thereby generate more business. But much of Central Avenue already has 90-minute parking restrictions during business hours.

Schaffner estimates this has been in development for about two years, in response to revitialized business activity. “The need to make more space available for more customers becomes an important ingredient,” he said.

Jason Ellis, who works at Brick’s Barber Shop on Central, is worried that his patrons will be deterred by the extra cost of parking, and will opt to go to the mall. “The only people who are benefitting from these parking meters are downtown,” said Ellis. His coworker Daiwan Perry also wonders where people that work and own businesses on Central Avenue will park. Perry feels that the meter “decision was made without consulting the business owners.”

“The meters are too little, too late” for Rocky Roy, co-owner of Music Shack. “Had this happened 15 years ago, maybe this would have helped,” he said. Roy thinks that businesses, along with residents, are being driven out by bad parking, in addition to crime problems. Roy said he frequently has customers who say they couldn’t find somewhere to park, so they had to go elsewhere. He advocates creating new parking lots along the avenue. Seven lots on or near Central Avenue are also getting meters, though their rate is reduced.

The meters affect Central Avenue residents as well as businesses. Though the meters are only for weekdays from 8 AM to 6 PM, many residents do not work those hours. “One would hope that you have parking behind your apartment,” responded Schaffner regarding those residents. “If you didn’t have that, you could park on Bradford Street on the South Side or Sherman Street on the North Side.”

But residents feel that’s not workable. “I’ve had three tenants from Central Avenue call me to tell me that they’re moving out because they don’t want to deal with the meter situation,” said R.A. DePrima, a Lark Street resident who owns property on Central Avenue. “Instead of working more toward a [resident] permit program, [Mayor Jerry Jennings] just seems hell-bent on raising revenue.”

Though full installation was delayed by wet weather, Schaffner said he hopes to have the meters operational within the next two weeks.

—Ashley Hahn


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