Saugerties plans crackdown on long-term parking in municipal lots

The municipal lot off Partition and Russell streets is used by many village residents (Will Dendis)

Trustees have drafted stricter rules for village parking, following complaints from police about their inability to crack down on drivers parking long-term in non-designated lots.

Residents can offer their opinions of the proposed changes at the next village board meeting on Monday, June 18 at 5:30 p.m. 

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“We had one of the town police officers come to the board and he was saying that he’d find the same vehicle parked under snow four feet deep — that doesn’t give us any time to clear the lot,” said Trustee Terry Parisian this week. “Before, a police officer could come by today and that parked car would be there. He would come the next day and it would still be there. He could come the day after that, the car would still be there, and he couldn’t do anything about it.”

The new law would prohibit parking in municipal lots, including designated overnight parking spaces, for more than “16 hours during any 24-hour day” at a time. (The board initially considered a single-day grace period and then eight hours, before settling at this number in consultation with Village Justice Robert Schnell, Parisian said.) It also prohibits parking anywhere but these overnight spots between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. According to the proposed law, “no person may park in any municipal lot for more than three consecutive nights at a time, even if parked in spaced marked for overnight parking.” This prohibition applies, the law’s text states, “even if the vehicle is moved from one space within in the lot to another space within the lot, from one night to the next.”

According to the drafted law, Mayor Bill Murphy will post on the Village of Saugerties website in the event of a snow emergency to notify residents that these laws have been temporarily suspended; the wording of the document specifically states that “mere snowfall” is not enough. A person may apply for a long-term parking permit with the village clerk, should they have “good cause shown”; when this permit is displayed in their car windshield, they will be exempt from the 16-hour limitation and restriction on parking between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. These permits will only be useable for 14 days at a time. One eligible good cause noted in the law are situations where a resident’s typical driveway or parking area is damaged or made inaccessible by factors like construction or weather conditions. Short-term visitors to the area without reliable parking at their lodgings can also apply for permits, as can residents who are borrowing vehicles temporarily. The proposed law states that these “Good Cause Permits” should be limited to areas where street parking is not available, and these permits can only be issued to a single person once in a 60-day period.

Enforcement of these laws is also addressed. Those in violation of the new regulations can be punished with a $250 fine, up to 15 days of imprisonment, or both. Officers can also oversee the towing and impounding of offending cars at the owner’s expense (the law also applies to trailers, boats, campers, motorcycles and recreational vehicles.) 

Police Chief Joseph Sinagra said this week that the law still needs some tweaks — he noted it incorrectly attributes enforcement to the “Village of Saugerties Police Department,” which was consolidated with the town’s police department in 2011.

“They still want more parking and this that and everything else,” said Parisian. “I’m sure, [as with] any changes, there will be controversy and people will have comment, but we try to accommodate the most people we can. I’m sure there are people that are going to be disgruntled with it. Landlords who don’t supply parking for their tenants might have an issue with the new law putting limits on it.”

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