CATSKILL — The Catskill Village Board approved a resolution to increase parking meter rates from 25 cents to 50 cents an hour Wednesday, as refurbished devices are being installed on Main Street to replace 146 meters.
Village Vice President Pete Grasse proposed the idea to install new meters at a May 23 village board meeting and 27 have been installed as of Thursday. Forty meters were delivered to the village in late May.
The new rate is comparable to Hudson’s parking meters on Warren Street and but lower than the village of Saugerties, which charges 25 cents for 20 minutes, Grasse said during the meeting.
“They’re even higher than us, so we’re right there and everything’s going well,” Grasse said.
The refurbished meters are made by Meter Products Company Inc. of Paterson, New Jersey.
The increased rate will help pay for the maintenance of the new meters and to keep parking spots open on Main Street, Village President Vincent Seeley said.
The meters should not have been installed until after Wednesday’s hearing, Deb Samuels, of Catskill, said, adding that bags should have been placed over the meters.
“What is the public meeting for?” Samuels said. “Why are the new ones going up before the public hearing? Isn’t that kind of a slap in the face?”
The existing meters were in constant need of repairs and were fixed more than they were in use, Seeley said during the meeting.
“To us, this was just a necessity and this public hearing was really more of an administrative hurdle we had to get over,” Seeley said. “I’ll fall on the sword for that.”
The timing of the public hearing was unfortunate, but some meters could not be fixed and needed replacement, Seeley said after the hearing.
“This was the path of least resistance,” he said. “If a huge constituency of people came out and said ‘This is not a good idea,’ I would have literally unscrewed those meters myself tonight.”
The installation of the new meters a few at a time was done as a pilot to assure they work properly, Seeley said, rather than install them all at the same time and run the risk of them failing.
No tickets have been written up by Catskill police on the new meters, Catskill Police Chief David Darling said. Many drivers don’t adhere to the two-hour limit on the meters and some take advantage that 10 percent of the existing meters aren’t working.
“They were parking there for four or five hours which curtails what I’m trying to do now on Main Street,” Darling said. “That’s so people can park on that street when they want to come down to the businesses or get a haircut.”
The meters are being phased in without enforcement and placing bags over them would give residents a reason to park on the street all day, Darling said, adding people who work on Main Street shouldn’t park there.
“That’s what I deal with every day down on that street,” Darling said. “I think it’s county workers, I’ll be very honest with you, it’s other workers on the street — they park their cars there, they feed the meter every two hours in violation.”
Drivers can park for free in the village’s two municipal parking lots off Main Street and on Water Street, Darling said, adding county employees have four designated lots. Darling hopes all the new meters will be installed by October.
“I think we’re very customer-oriented here. We don’t go out and hawk people on those fines,” Darling said.
All the meters should be replaced at the same time to avoid a situation where the meter company goes out of business, Christine Rappleyea, of Catskill, said, adding the new meters will add to the village’s image.
“We’re trying to be cutty and edgy. You’ve got these mishmash of meters,” Rappleyea said. “These look great and I wish there was enough money in the budget to buy them all.”
Grasse agreed with Rappleyea’s assessment of the existing meters being mismatched.
“We had eight different colors prior to this, four, five different styles,” Grasse said.
The refurbished meters cost about $190 each and $16,000 is set aside in the village’s budget for repairing them, Grasse said. The new meters will take no other coins but quarters, making future repairs easier.
“The biggest problem they had getting them [the old meters] fixed why it cost $170 each, it was because of the nickel and dime part — no one uses nickels and dimes,” Grasse said. “To make it a flat quarter and stay with everybody else in surrounding counties, it shouldn’t be a very big deal.”
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.