Free parking in downtown New Paltz on Sunday afternoons will soon be a thing of the past. Last week the New Paltz Village Board decided to amend the local law governing parking meters to add Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. to the hours of active enforcement.
In March 2018, Village mayor Tim Rogers had originally proposed charging for parking from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays, the same as the rest of the week. According to Rogers, the compromise solution maintaining free parking in the Village’s 262 metered spots on Sunday mornings only was suggested by Josh Stewart, pastor of the Goodwill Church, located at 16 North Chestnut Street. Leaders of several other local church congregations whose Sunday-morning services would have been adversely impacted by all-day metering signed on in support of Stewart’s idea, the mayor added.
The vote on the amendment was 3-0, with members KT Tobin and Dennis Young absent. Trustee Don Kerr, who has consistently opposed any form of elimination of free Sunday parking based on feedback from Village residents, reiterated his qualms when it came time for a vote, but said that he would “let my support for compromise override my opposition.”
The question of whether or not to raise parking ticket fines from the current $10 to $20 was not addressed as part of the current amendment to the law. “There’s no changing to rates at all. It’s just a plain-vanilla change,” Rogers said. “It applies to everyone.” Nor will any signage changes be required, other than putting new stickers on the parking meters specifying their hours of operation.
Although the rationale most frequently offered for keeping parking free on Sunday mornings was the potential chilling effect of paid parking on church attendance, deputy Village clerk Ariana Basco suggested another factor that the trustees were taking into consideration: discouraging drunk driving on Saturday nights. “A lot of people leave their cars overnight on Saturdays,” she observed. Whether New Paltz’s downtown eating establishments will experience a boost in Sunday-morning coffee sales to revelers nursing hangovers and needing to move their cars by 1 p.m. remains to be seen.
According to Basco, enforcement of the new meter hours will commence as soon as the office of the New York State Secretary of State confirms that the local law has been accepted for filing. “It usually takes two weeks to one month before filing with the state is official. Even if we send the law to them the day after the meeting, there is still processing time,” she said.