POTSDAM -- A recent study of current village parking trends in its downtown business district could help guide the board of trustees to a decision on how to move forward with its paid parking areas …
POTSDAM -- A recent study of current village parking trends in its downtown business district could help guide the board of trustees to a decision on how to move forward with its paid parking areas during its upcoming Streetscape project.
The village is in the process of gathering information on several paid parking options for its downtown.
At their meeting Tuesday, Jan. 16, the board of trustees and the mayor heard a presentation on the study, which presents fresh data on the issue collected by civil engineering students from Clarkson.
The parking study was conducted by Clarkson CEM Consulting Group (C3G), and presented to the board by the group’s advisor Dr. Erik Backus, Clarkson Prof. of Prac., Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Nicholas Leggett, a senior civil engineering student at Clarkson, who was the project manager for the study.
The group studied downtown parking for five days in November right before Thanksgiving. Times studied were 1-2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14; 1-4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15; 3-5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17; 10-11:45 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18; Sunday, Nov. 19 from 12-1 p.m.
“We had six major areas,” Leggett said. “The Main Street parking lot as well as on-street parking on Main Street. Then, on-street parking on Market Street. The parking lot right by Raymond Street. Then, all along Elm Street, then the Munson lot up to the north, and the Frosh lot.”
“And we oversaw it for 10 hours total. That’s five days, two-hour blocks each,” the project manager said.
Leggett said the study data was organized to determine a parked utilized or lingered value for each of the lots and parking spots studied.
The data returned from the study indicated that in the on-street spots studied, which are enforced by the paid parking meters, the village did not have much lingering parking, where parked cars stayed overlong in a spot.
“In general, all across the village there is a low lingering rate,” Leggett said.
The main issue for downtown village business owners is to keep parking turnover happening throughout the day to allow customers to access those businesses.
The study found that there was a high utilization of the Raymond Street parking lot during the time studied.
Also revealed was a low utilization of parking on Elm Street.
“Was there just a rationale for not doing evening times?” asked Village Trustee Lynzie Schulte.
“We had to pick a period of time. That was restricted to ten hours because that’s just the man hours,” Backus said. “We didn’t choose the evening because you don’t charge for any parking after 6 p.m. anyhow.”
“Unless it’s Friday and then it’s 9 p.m.,” said Village Mayor Alex Jacobs Wilke.
“The stress (of the study) was about visiting businesses, and the majority of businesses close after evening hours,” Backus said. “That was that… that wasn’t the focus.”
“It was really hard to get down this 10 hours of people out there counting cars,” said Backus.
“To be fair to Dr. Backus and the students, we had them pair back. We could have put them on the street for every possible hour combination,” Wilke said.
“This is, we hope, a representative sample, however, there’s a lot of caveats on the back end,” Backus said. “If you were to really do this it would be a 40-hour study not a 10-hour study.”
Other key takeaways from the study’s overall analysis was that long term parkers seem to use Main Street, Prosh and Munson parking lots on the weekdays; and that there were more than ample overall parking spots in the village as a whole.
The study also gave pros and cons of several technology approaches to the village’s downtown parking to keep parking turnover up following the streetscape project.
Traditional coin meters, parking kiosks, online/remote app based paid parking and permit parking based on license plates were each compared and contrasted.
The village will be trying out two test digital parking kiosks in coming weeks to gather information on how those devices could be used.