On the face of it, Matt Gallucci has one of the village’s least desirable jobs — he’s the New Paltz parking enforcement officer. You know, the meter man, the guy who writes tickets if you’ve overstayed your welcome (or time) at any particular meter in his jurisdiction; the guy you may want to argue with as he begins to write down your plate number as you claim: “I was just coming out to put some money in the meter.” Well, Gallucci has heard it all — and then some — in the eleven years since he started on the job part-time (moving to full-time six years ago), and guess what? The New Rochelle native will actually listen to you. Gallucci is, if anything, fair and gregarious to a fault. He likes people.
After graduating Fordham with a BA in sociology, Gallucci went to work for awhile in group homes. He then followed the family business (his father worked for a lumber company in the Bronx) and worked for a lumber wholesaler in Montgomery for 14 years, but the company folded and he found himself unemployed.
“I needed a job, it was difficult times and I was dependable,” says Gallucci, who then had the part-time offer from the village. Once it became full-time his duties were expanded to not only monitoring the meters in the village, but also checking side streets for abandoned cars, cars blocking driveways. “I call the police if it’s important, but mainly I’m there to make sure the village and state laws are followed, so residents will know that things are enforced…but I’m not the police,” says Gallucci. “I don’t have that authority. My attitude is to feel out a situation, I’m not looking for confrontations out there. But if a meter has expired, it’s expired. If there are extenuating circumstances, I’ll try to be reasonable, but there has to be some kind of proof of what they’re telling me.”
Gallucci understands the difficulties of parking in the village, especially on weekends when the town is overrun by “touristas.” “So I do understand the problem, lack of adequate parking, but the reason for metering is to keep spaces available in town.” And he mentions a couple of alternatives like the Plattekill lot, “which used to be free, but is now metered and usually is just one-half to three-quarters full during the week. And behind Village Hall, where there are 15-20 spaces available for a fee…but there is always talk of a parking garage, or maybe stickers for residents,” says Gallucci. Alternate-side-of-the-street parking could also change the parking dynamics in town, as the non-college side of Main Street is alternate-side parking and the college side is not. “We go with a 24-hour policy of checking cars on side streets to keep the streets free for emergency vehicles and have a snow ordinance for cars blocking driveways, so yes, I’m the collection guy,” laughs Gallucci, “but the job is also one of enforcement. I love being out and about, talking with people, helping people, even if there are a few complaints and nasty letters once in awhile about our parking policies. It goes with the job. And I love my job.”
That he does, as anyone who sees Gallucci wind his way along Main Street checking meters and saying hello to all and sundry.
So…if you see Gallucci in his grey-green uniform about to write a ticket for an expired meter, just think…there’s a guy just doing his job. And if you get a chance to talk with him, you’ll think…there’s a really nice guy just doing his job.