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Free Parking Victory for All

by Marianne Olive

I’m just getting back from the July 9th meeting of the Nyack Village Board of Trustees. I’m very pleased to announce that the board has passed, by a 4 to 1 majority, a motion in favor of what we have been calling “Free Parking Night.” What this means is that, for a trial period, people coming to Nyack on Thursday nights won’t have to pay for parking after 6:00 P.M. Voting in favor of the measure were Mayor John Shields along with trustees Denise Hogan, Marie Lorinzini, and Louise Parker. Voting against was trustee Richard Kavesh.

The trial period for Free Parking Night will commence on July 13th and be over by January 1st, 2010. During this time Mayor Shields instructed local merchants to appoint a liaison to report back to the Board every two months as to whether or not Free Parking Night has positively effected businesses.

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Local business owners have been strongly in favor of hosting a weekly “Thursday Open Late Night” in Nyack to help stimulate the local economy and bring prosperity back to Nyack in our troubled economic times. Having a Free Parking Night is a crucial part of this. Many merchants are planning to keep their doors open on Thursdays at least until 9:00 P.M. to provide customers and restaurant patrons with the widest possible variety of businesses to patronize. It is all part of the collaboration between Restaurant Row of Rockland and local merchants, who are working together to encourage more visitors to shop, eat, and take in the sights and sounds of Nyack.

I believe the passage of this measure is a real victory for the the Village of Nyack ‘€“ for merchants, residents and consumers. It’s also a victory for the Board of Trustees. As a result of this measure, I think people will look at Nyack more favorably with the more friendly parking situation. This is a win-win situation for all.

That said, I think this parking proposal is just the tip of the iceberg. People tend to forget that, at the time of writing, there are more than 40 vacant storefronts scattered throughout the Village with probably more coming. And as business goes, so goes Nyack. This is why I believe it is absolutely crucial in the upcoming months to take even more action to stimulate the local economy.

I think people should also recall, as was pointed out at the meeting, that charging for parking in Nyack up until 9:00 P.M. was supposed to be a temporary measure. And yet this “temporary measure” has already been in effect for more than two years. So I think the time is now ripe to revisit this issue to determine whether or not a return to charging for parking from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 would be more advantageous to the Village.

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Parking revenue is a double-edged sword that tends to penalize everyone: both merchants and customers. So I think it’s time to ask ourselves the following question: Exactly how much of the burden for the Village’s yearly budget should revenue from parking be expected to bear, and how much might be borne by other sources?

Marianne Olive is the owner of Olive’s restaurant and Hair’s Marianne salon. She is currently running as Democrat candidate for Mayor of Nyack. She may be reached at Oliveboss@aol.com or at (845) 596-2985.

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