The topic of miscommunication turned into a heated debate between Mayor Scott Strauss and resident Theo Rabinowitz at last week’s board meeting.
On Dec. 12, 2018, the village board passed a parking resolution, which banned parking from 3 to 5 a.m. in parking fields 1, 3, 7 and 7A, which are for commuter parking only, with the exception of Sundays and holidays.
“In our commuter lots, there’s been conversations over the years and certainly this year about abuse of the system,” said Strauss in December. “For $55, you can purchase a year-long commuter pass that allows you to park your vehicle in a commuter lot on a first-come, first-served basis. There are areas and people who abuse that privilege. This [resolution] will prevent a lot of that…I think this will free up many of the spots that are taken overnight by people who are not commuting.”
Rabinowitz, who lives in the apartment complex at 225 First St., and is a commuter parking pass holder, told the board that he was dismayed when finding out about the ban on overnight parking.
“I am both a commuter into the city and a resident in those town house apartment complexes,” said Rabinowitz. “…We have to park there. We have no other choice. If we have a car, we have nowhere to park overnight besides that commuter lot. I found out about this [ban] when I renewed my parking pass. I saw that this resolution was passed on Dec. 12, and there was no communication to us as commuter parking pass holders that this would be discussed.”
Rabinowitz was also upset that the board gave no notice to residents to come to village hall to discuss the issue of overnight parking in the commuter parking lots.
“We don’t need to sir,” responded Strauss. “We have the right and the responsibility to adjust parking restrictions as we see fit. We did so for the residents who are actually commuters. You said that you park in the parking lot and take the train into the city?”
Rabinowitz responded, “Correct.”
“So you’re not using your car to commute,” said Strauss. “You use it there to store your car overnight probably for a week at a time.”
“Sometimes, but I do also use my car for work,” said Rabinowitz.
“But you don’t use your car to take yourself to the train station and hop on the train…,” said Strauss. “So you’re storing your car there. You’re not using it as a commuter as the parking lot was designed to be used by. Do you use your car to commute from your building, which is a block away from the train station, to the train station and get into the train? Or do you store your car there for probably weeks at a time taking spots from other residents who live further away who don’t have the ability…”
Before Strauss could continue, Rabinowitz tried to interject.
“Sir, don’t interrupt me,” Strauss said. “I did not interrupt you. Do not interrupt me. Answer my question if you could. Do you store your car there for weeks at a time and take spots from residents who need that parking?”
Rabinowitz responded, “Not without using it, sir.”
Rabinowitz told the board that there should be a system in place for residents who also have no place to park besides the commuter parking lot overnight, claiming the resolution pass was done in the dead of night.
“The first communication I have is this postmarked notice on Jan. 24,” said Rabinowitz. “A month and a half went by after you had passed this resolution without any communication to us about a change. I now have to scramble to find a new parking solution for myself.”
Strauss told Rabinowitz that there are 55 new parking spots south of the train tracks on Station Road.
“[There are] 55 parking spots that are brand new for commuter use that do not have the 3 to 5 a.m. restrictions,” said Strauss. “So feel free to use those if you want to store your car there for weeks at a time.”
Trustee Dennis Walsh suggested to Rabinowitz that he can pay $6 a day to store his car at the Intermodal Center or buy a parking space from the owner of his building.
“You said that this was passed in the dead of night? That is in fact incorrect,” said Strauss. “This is a topic that has been discussed continually amongst the board as well as our residents on a daily basis. We finally decided to put a solution to this…”
Rabinowitz interrupted Strauss by saying that there should have been notices sent out.
“Sir, do not interrupt me again, please. I gave you the courtesy to speak, give me the courtesy,” shot back Strauss. “You said there was no communication. That is a lie. There was communications in the papers, we sent out letters to everybody who has a pass or had a pass, we put out notices and said it’s not going to take effect until the signs are up. You admitted that you got those notices. You had ample time…So don’t come up here, lie to us and say that we should give you back parking and take it away from residents who need it. Where you store your car is not our problem…”
Strauss said the board took what was already in place, adjusted it to ease the residents who were complaining about it and provided parking for people who game the system.
Rabinowitz said that the notice he received should have mentioned the 55 parking spots on Station Road.
“One of the reasons we’re not doing that is because more than 55 people like you will take up all the parking spaces,” responded Walsh. “The purpose of those 55 parking spaces are for first responders and other people who work 24 hours a day…who need those spaces to travel into the city…”
“You could communicate with mailers,” said Rabinowitz.
“Sir, we did communicate with everybody we needed to communicate with,” said Strauss “You obviously disagree. We’re not changing it [the resolution], so enjoy it.”