Alderwoman blocks Kingston parking kiosks

The president of the Kingston Common Council said that lawmakers on Tuesday, Feb. 7 voted to temporarily table a key element of Mayor Steve Noble’s plan to institute paid parking on municipal lots. But James Noble said Wednesday, Feb. 8 he expects the issue to return to the agenda, and pass, next month.

The mayor has pushed for a metered parking in nine city lots since October when he unveiled his 2017 budget proposal. Mayor Noble has argued that the change is necessary to pay for improvements to the city-owned lots and other parking infrastructure and hold the line on taxes in the face of a major spike in healthcare costs. But the plan has faced stiff opposition in Uptown Kingston from business owners who worry it will drive away customers and residents who rely on the lots.

The mayor’s plan called for the city to issue a $125,000 bond to cover the cost of purchasing and installing payment kiosks in the lots. The issue came before the council last month but with paid parking supporter Alderman Doug Koop (D-Ward 2) absent, the proposal failed to get the six vote supermajority needed to issue a bond.

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On Tuesday, with Koop present, the council was poised to push through the bond when paid parking opponent MaryAnn Mills (D-Ward 7) invoked a council rule that forbids calling for a second vote on an issue that has already been decided at the same or next subsequent council meeting.

Council President Noble said that after conferring with Corporation Counsel Kevin Bryant he decided to return the bond issue to the council’s Finance Committee pending a new vote next month.

“I didn’t want to be perceived as trying to sneak something through,” said Noble.

Mayor Noble’s timeline calls for the kiosks to be installed by April 1. In an email, spokeswoman Megan Weiss-Rowe said that Noble had provided data to back up his case for paid parking in the lots and was in the process of assembling a “work group” of local residents and business owners to develop goals and benchmarks to guide the revamping of the city’s parking system.

“It is the mayor’s position that we have a lot of work to do to improve our antiquated and broken parking system,” Weiss-Rowe wrote. “And he looks forward to working with all those willing and interested in addressing the problem.”

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