Gallo: Parking Grinch or businesses’ Santa?

Mayor Shayne Gallo. (Photo: Dan Barton)

Mayor Shayne Gallo. (Photo: Dan Barton)

Mayor Shayne Gallo said this week he was simply responding to the wishes of business owners when he rescinded an executive order last week granting free parking at all metered spaces in Kingston.

The controversy, which aroused allegations of Grinch-like behavior on social media, began on Dec. 9 when Gallo issued the executive order suspending meter enforcement starting on Dec. 14 and running through January 1. Hours later, the order was amended to start off the free parking immediately. “This will allow holiday shoppers and visitors to the City to park at no charge in the Uptown, Midtown and Downtown business districts where there is metered parking,” Gallo wrote. “We encourage residents and visitors to shop local and this is a perfect opportunity to visit the many fine boutiques, specialty shops and restaurants that are located in the business districts without worry of getting a parking ticket for expired time on meters.” The notice was sent to local media outlets and posted on the Kingston Police Department’s Facebook page.

But the next day, without explanation, the executive order was revoked. Media got an e-mailed copy of the original order with “Rescinded” written in red at the top. On Facebook, the original order was posted with the red-lettered “rescinded” splashed across the face. Gallo offered no explanation for the sudden turnaround until this week when an official press release cited feedback from the Kingston Uptown Business Association as the reason for the reversal.


KUBA President Jane Garrity said KUBA members had reached out to the mayor back in January to ask him not to enact free parking this year. Garrity said business owners had complained that people who live and work Uptown used the meter holiday to take up spots all day, rather than using free parking available all day in “The Crater” municipal lot on Schwenk Drive. As a result, Garrity said, visitors and shoppers Uptown had an ever harder time than usual finding parking close to shops and restaurants.

Garrity said she and other KUBA members were taken by surprise by the executive order. “It was a good intention that kind of backfired,” said Garrity. “I can’t speak for the mayor as to why he did it then undid it.”

The no-free parking edict came down just as work began on replacement of a staircase linking the Schwenk Drive lot with the heart of the Uptown Business District on North Front Street. Gallo ordered the existing staircase closed in 2012, citing its poor condition and liability concerns. Since then, parkers have had to mount a steep hill to reach the Stockade District from the municipal lot. The project this week closed off parking in a portion of the lot, but City Engineer Ralph Swenson said he expects the new staircase to be complete by Friday when city officials plan to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

There are 4 comments

  1. gberke

    This was unnecessary… the mayor, the uptown merchants and whoever, and this newspaper… this kind of stuff sure gives Gallo credence when he opines that Smith has an agenda.
    Beyond that, the paper needs better editorial oversight…
    It needs to have a purpose beyond driving up circulation for the Almanac insert and the revenue provided (not to imply that the Almanac is not a pretty fine piece of work in itself but it’s free and it doesn’t get delivered on its own)

    1. admin

      Our purpose in general is to report the news and explain why things happen in this city – we take our continuing building circulation as evidence we’re being supported in our efforts. In this case, plenty of people wanted to know why the mayor said parking would be free, then retracted it a day later. Let the public debate on Gallo’s wisdom or lack thereof commence. – Dan the editor

  2. Eileen Kennedy

    I cannot even count the amount of times I drove in circles to find a spot. Many times just got tired of it and headed to Saugerties. They have free meters and welcome buyers. I make a point of shopping local, and made in USA. I love the shops in uptown Kingston, so eclectic,can always find something.

  3. Susan

    Next year everyone will be able to ride their bikes to do their Christmas shopping with all of the bike lanes that are being proposed. No need to shop in Kingston with a car! Cars go elsewhere.

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