For centuries, the scientific method has been used to arrive at logical conclusions supported by data. Often, the process includes weeding out variables systematically until one, or none, remain.
It is said that correlation does not imply causation. This fancy way of saying, “Don’t jump to conclusions” reminds us that just because events coincide, it doesn’t mean that one caused the other.
So it is in the spirit of scientific inquiry that we regard the recent lawsuit by several Cooperstown merchants against the village board over the recently installed parking meters on Main Street.
In their suit, the merchants argue that the meters, which went online in May, are driving away customers and costing them money.
But correlation does not imply causation. While we aren’t in a position to dispute that the merchants’ collective take may be down this spring, we aren’t comfortable attributing that solely to the new meters.
Let’s consider a couple of variables:
We’ve known since January, when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America failed to select a living player for induction, that this was going to be a down year for the Hall of Fame. The celebrations will still go on as planned later this month, but it’s not likely to be a big draw.
Consumer spending, while on the rise recently, has been slow this year. Bloomberg reported in late June that vacation and travel spending were among the sectors of the economy taking a hit.
Perhaps the most important variable of all is the village’s need for more money. There are a lot of ways for a municipality to collect revenue. This system attempts to siphon some money off the tourists who spend plentifully in Cooperstown every year, while minimizing the effects on locals by offering parking passes and limiting the meters to the peak season. It also has the side benefit of helping to free up premium parking spots.