One voice in favor of paid parking was Walnut Street resident Henry Nicols, who said paid parking has been talked about for decades.
“I’m concerned we have a valuable resource on Main Street that we are not using,” he told the board.
Chamber of Commerce Director Pat Szarpa suggested that if paid parking becomes a reality, the board should consider more 15-minute spaces and that the signage needs to be improved.
Joan Clark, the owner of a Main Street commercial property, took the board to task for the timing of the public hearing.
“I can’t believe you would have any kind of hearing on Dec. 20,” she said, adding that the board should find another way of raising money “instead of killing Main Street with paid parking.”
“I don’t think the trustees know how hard it is to have a business on Main Street,” said her son Paul Clark. “You’re really penalizing Main Street. You guys will be famous down the road if this thing fails.”
Mary Margaret Robbins warned of the changes paid parking would create and asked the board not to “kill Main Street.”
The board also received letters stating that paid parking would make it more difficult for locals to do business in the village and for non-tourist businesses to survive on Main Street.
Following the hearing, the board discussed the issue.
Trustee Cindy Falk, the chair of the streets and building committee, said the impetus for paid parking was the $900,000 a year that engineers estimate it will take to maintain the village’s street infrastructure.
“It does not generate $900,000; closer to $250,000, but it’s a step in the right direction,” she said.
“I understand both sides,” said trustee Jim Dean. “We need the money and I understand the merchants’ view. If we do nothing, we’ll be $250,000 short. If we do it, we’ll be held responsible for everything that happens.”