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Gloversville grapples with parking enforcement

Federal court rules chalking tires unconstitutional

GLOVERSVILLE — City officials this week discussed how to enforce downtown parking restrictions following the April ruling from a federal appeals court that deemed the chalking of tires to be unconstitutional.

Sixth Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski broached the subject of enforcement of downtown parking regulations limiting parking to two hours on Main and Fulton streets from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.

“There have been complaints from some of the businesses downtown that there are people parking downtown for the entire day. We have at least eight signs on Main Street and Church Street which state–two-hour parking limit–and I don’t know why these are not being enforced,” Siarkowski said.

Siarkowski noted that the city has focused on improving pedestrian safety downtown to promote “walkability” by repainting crosswalks, reducing the speed limit on Main Street and developing plans to implement a large scale safety project through a $660,000 state grant awarded to the city in June 2018 through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

Now Siarkowski says the city should promote “parkability” to ensure people visiting the city’s downtown are able to access their destination upon arrival.

“We have certain businesses there that have customers come from out of town,” Siarkowski said. “I’m just concerned about the merchants that are having problems with people trying to get into their businesses and they’re not aware of where there’s extra parking and they come downtown and there’s no parking.”

“Some people have actually turned around, left and gone home,” he added.

Third Ward Councilwoman Elizabeth “Betsy” Batchelor suggested the installation of signs downtown alerting visitors unfamiliar with the city to the location of nearby public parking lots as a possible solution to prevent visitors from leaving when they cannot find street parking.

With signs regarding parking limits currently going ignored, Siarkowski argued that this option would not solve the problem.

“There’s signs that say two hour parking, that doesn’t seem to make a difference,” Siarkowski said. “We should be encouraging that we enforce these two hour parking limits.”

Police Chief Marc Porter explained that city police have faced complications enforcing parking time limits following the April ruling of a federal appeals court deeming chalking vehicle tires for the purpose of enforcement to be unconstitutional.

“The tried and true method that we’ve used for years is something that we have to change from,” Porter said. “Whether I agree with it or not, it’s been ruled that even marking a tire in that fashion is an intrusion on someone’s property. Marking a tire was an efficient way, the tire with the street, to determine if the vehicle had moved in that timeframe.”

Siarkowski suggested the police department take a more modern approach to parking enforcement by taking digital photos of each parked vehicle to look back to for comparison to determine if a vehicle surpasses the two-hour time limit.

“There are new and different ways to implement a parking enforcement program, there’s all kinds of vendors out there that have realized the chalking of the tires is unconstitutional,” Porter said. “We can look at other solutions then we can see what will hold up in court as well.”

Porter said that he would take up the discussion with City Attorney Anthony Casale to determine a preferred enforcement method noting that Casale may be called upon to prosecute any challenges against parking tickets issued by the city. He also encouraged anyone with complaints regarding non-compliance with parking regulations to contact the police department.

“There can be more of a dialogue, a partnership there if someone wants to call and complain it’s something we’d be more than likely to take a look at as well,” Porter said.

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