HUNTER — After dozens of residents made complaints and offered solutions to the overuse of Kaaterskill Clove at a public meeting last week, the town board announced its mitigation plan Tuesday.
The town will invest in electronic ticketing software that will enable parking violations to be linked to a violator’s registration, Town Councilman Sean Mahoney said. An impound lot will be set up at town hall.
The impound lot will start the weekend of Aug. 8, Mahoney said.
“We will have a Town of Hunter police officer there releasing vehicles once they pay the fees associated with it,” he said.
The fee will be agreed upon between the multiple towing operators, Mahoney said.
“If a vehicle is still there at time it closes, the towing company will then bring the vehicle to their lot, which will then incur more fees,” Mahoney said, adding that the time for the lot closure is still be ironed out.
“Hopefully, everyone comes and picks up their vehicles,” he said. “We are doing this in the interest of health and safety. We had a number of first responders that spoke up at our public hearing and said they are highly concerned about their ability on high-use days of getting rescue vehicles through the Clove. Traffic is at a standstill when emergency vehicles need to be able to get through.”
Several residents at the hearing called for stronger consequences for parking violations such as towing and booting, saying violators were tearing up tickets.
In June, more than 500 parking tickets were issued by local police departments, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The town’s current system uses hand-written tickets, Mahoney said.
“It’s not integrated into the DMV system,” he said. “We’re looking at integrating with DMV and machine-printed tickets that would automatically look up registration and associate the ticket to that registration. We haven’t had that system in the past. This would mean machine printing with each officer. This is something we’re investing in.”
Mahoney did not immediately know what the investment would cost the town, he said.
“The town is very focused on this,” he said. “When the vehicle is up for registration again, these things would have to be taken care of before re-registering the vehicle.”
Town officials met with the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Wednesday, Mahoney said.
“We are continuing to collaborate and coordinate with DEC,” he said. “DEC has told us they are currently increasing trash clean ups. They are also looking at testing the water but no definite action is going to be taken on that yet.”
DEC Forest Rangers have increased patrols and are actively educating visitors about sustainable use and Leave No Trace principles, according to the DEC.
The state Department of Transportation is looking at signage in the Clove, Mahoney said, including the potential for signs that would refer people to North/South Lake.
No Parking signs were recently placed below climber’s lot and the roadway east of the Jersey barrier pull-off, with more signage expected, according to DEC.
“Our law enforcement partners, state police, the sheriff’s office and the town of Hunter police, all have increased their presence in the Clove and are doing best they can to monitor and to make sure the vehicle situation and pedestrian safety is taken care of to best of our ability,” Mahoney said.
The town will continue to work with its partners to find a resolution.
“This is the highest priority to the town right now, to deal with these issues,” he said. “The public meeting we had was extremely informative. It was an incredible amount of turnout we had, it’s clear our town demands that action is taken.”