Mount Kisco is scaling back the number of free parking spots that it will allow for the holiday shopping season.
The changes, which will come at the discretion of Village Manager James Palmer, will impact 1-hour, on-street spots along South Moger Avenue and the northern section of East Main Street, Palmer said. Parking in the village's downtown lots - they are Shopper's Park, Blackeby, South Moger and North Moger - will remain free for periods of several hours, with durations depending on the lot.
Palmer acknowledged that he will implement the changes after the idea was discussed among members of the Village Board of Trustees at Monday's meeting. He said that he will send out more details about it.
The move comes because some trustees have grown tired of complaints about people using the on-street spots, which are meant to have high turnover, far beyond the 1-hour limits and thinking that free parking means that it is unlimited.
“The issue is that certain people abuse the privilege," said Cindrich, who was adamant about making the change.
Cindrich felt that if people want to shop longer, then they should use the lots, which will have free parking for times of two to four hours, depending on the lot.
“My thought is that if you're going to shop for three or four hours - which we encourage in the village - you park in the lots.”
Cindrich also said that merchants have previously complained about people using the on-street spots for too long, preferring turnover.
“They don't want cars to be warehoused on the street for more than one hour.”
Free parking, which in previous years has been sponsored by the village's chamber of commerce, will be in effect from Dec. 10 through the new year, Mayor J. Michael Cindrich told reporters after the meeting.
In allowing the free parking, Mount Kisco gives up revenue. According to Palmer, allowing for free parking costs the village about $30,000 in meter revenue. The point of having it, however, has been to encourage people to shop downtown, which has been intended to give the village a boost in and of itself.
Cindrich and Palmer feel that the change is not due to lack of effort on their part in reaching out to the chamber and business community.
“They didn't offer us any options," Cindrich said. Palmer, meanwhile, felt that there was not a consistent response among merchants about the situation, saying that no two gave "the same answer."
Trustees appeared to be split on the issue. Deputy Mayor George Griffin was emphatic in scaling back the spots, feeling that short-term spaces need turnover. Trustees Jean Farber and Anthony Markus, meanwhile, appeared hesistant, and each suggested keeping the on-street spots free, watching how people behave with them, and giving Palmer the discretion to remove the free privilege mid-way through the holiday season if it is abused.
The plan as proposed, Farber felt, was “like sort of like going against the Christmas spirit.” Towards the end of discussion about the topic, Farber asked that whatever is decided be "publicized heavily" so that people do not get angry if they have a mistaken impression about free parking. The village, in on respect, will do just that, as Palmer told the board that explanations about what is allowed will be more legible disclaimers to indicate the free parking.
New Trustee Karen Schleimer, who attended her first meeting since beginning her term over the weekend, did not give her opinion on the issue.