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Free Parking Has Hidden Costs

by Richard Kavesh

This morning I spoke with Georges Jacquemart about the plan for free downtown parking on Thursdays after 6. For those who don’t know Georges, his firm, BFJ, authored Nyack’s recent parking study. Among parking cognoscenti Georges is considered a ‘€œrock star’€ ‘€” one of the very best there is.

Rather than email a summary of my conversation to just a select group, I thought I should post his comments on the web as soon as possible so as many people as possible could read it and comment on it before tonight’s meeting. Here are Georges’ comments:

Georges called the idea for free downtown parking on Thursday night a ‘€œsilly measure’€ and ‘€œcounterproductive,’€ said ‘€œit doesn’t help the parking situation’€ and that ‘€œmerchants will be shooting themselves in the foot.’€

When I asked him ‘€œwhy,’€ this is what he said:

  • Residents and employees will park on the streets, as well as customers.
  • It doesn’t create turnover and will actually reduce the availability of parking spaces.
  • It can’t be enforced.

When I asked him to propose an alternative that would work, Georges suggested:

  • Keep meters in force on the streets. This is where the most turnover is needed.
  • Open up for free the parking lot in back of the theater, at least for as long as the theater is dark.
  • Possibly pick a night even less-utilized than Thursday.

George also suggested that everyone read The High Cost of Free Parking by Donald Schoup.

When I told Georges that I would bring up his plan at tonight’s meeting, he told me that ‘€œyou can blame it all on the consultant.’€

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I believe that Georges’ plan is a win-win for everyone and that it will do more to bring new shoppers/diners to Nyack than the other plans that have been proposed so far, at considerably less cost to the village.

Richard Kavesh is a Trustee for the Village of Nyack.

See also: Park Free Thursdays Needs Tweeks To Succeed, Nyack Merchants Need Free Parking Night

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