Plattsburgh officials are trying to mitigate one of the side effects of the Lake City’s long-awaited Downtown Redevelopment Initiative, which includes construction of a new apartment complex where the downtown’s largest parking lot currently sits.
Many of the 289 spaces in the Durkee Street lot would be replaced through a planned expansion of the Broad Street lot and the planned construction of a new lot on Margaret Street. Two weeks ago, Plattsburgh-based Luck Brothers won the construction contract with a bid of just under $600,000. On Wednesday, the Common Council voted to borrow nearly half a million dollars — through two bond resolutions worth $240,000 each — to cover much of the expense.
However, construction isn’t the only expense involved with the parking lots. The property at Margaret and Division Streets where the Arnie Pavone Memorial Parking Plaza will be built was privately-owned, and a former bank building was still standing on it. The city has purchased the land and demolished the former Glens Falls National Bank branch. “I think the engineering estimates were that this project would be completed for somewhere around $900,000 all in, and I think right now we’re quite a bit over that number,” Mayor Colin Read said.
During the Common Council meeting, city staff members who were not visible in the live stream could be heard confirming the mayor’s belief, adding that the price tag is now just over $1.2 million. According to them, the city planned to save money by having Clinton County handle the bulk of the paving work for the parking lots. In exchange, the county would have earned credit toward parking permits for county employees who have to work downtown. Labor rules governing county work crews have apparently led that arrangement to fall apart, according to city staff, helping push up the cost.
The New York Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments has pledged financial help, but Mayor Read said it’s not clear how much help the agency will be able to provide. “Like everything related to state funding, the amount that they’ve pledged — we’ll receive a fraction between zero and 100%, and they’re not going to tell us whether it’s 0% or 100% quite yet because of their own fiscal challenges,” he said. If Plattsburgh is fortunate enough to get 100% state reimbursement for the parking lot projects, the city can use those state funds to repay the new bonds.
One council member, Ward 2 Councilor Mike Kelly, said that if the Broad Street and Margaret Street projects are completed and Durkee Street isn’t re-developed, the downtown area will have more parking than it could possibly need. “I would recommend that we demolish the Durkee Street lot if these other lots are completed — or at least a portion of it — and turn that into a grassy area and put a big sign up on it that says, ‘this property available for development’.” However, Kelly himself acknowledged moments later that any such discussions need to wait for another time.