October 26, 2021

Paid SUNY Cortland parking pondered

City considers charging in College Hill area

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Cars use free curbside parking along Prospect Terrace on College Hill near the SUNY Cortland campus. The city is studying the possibility of adding paid parking along some streets near the campus. File Photo.

As a new college year starts, SUNY Cortland students will park their cars either in their designated parking lots or on the surrounding streets, but Cortland city leaders are discussing imposing fees for parking near campus.

The idea was first brought before the Common Council in December by the Cortland Downtown Partnership as a revenue source for the partnership, which manages the city’s parking system of nine public lots and about 400 parking spaces. The partnership hired Chicago-based SP Plus Municipal Services for $18,000 to conduct an analysis of the city’s parking regulations and what improvements could be made.

Downtown Partnership Executive Director and Alderman Adam Megivern (R-7th Ward) said he would like to implement the partnership’s current parking permit system for Prospect Terrace near the campus and surrounding streets, including James Street and Tompkins Street near James. That totals about 125 parking spaces.

SP Plus has worked on on-street and off-street parking in major cities like Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, Tampa and Denver among others.

Megivern said that right now, the discussions at council meetings are for gauging interest in moving the project forward.

“If it’s successful, it’s because there is a market for it,” Megivern said. “People pay for things they want to buy.”

The city has a paid parking program for municipal parking spots. Cars can be parked on Main Street for a maximum of two hours while cars can be parked in the downtown free parking lots for up to three hours before risking a ticket. People can buy a resident, monthly or daily parking permit through the Downtown Partnership. Megivern said the partnership can only make recommendations to the council based on complaints it receives, which include people not knowing where to park, not being able to clearly read signs and not knowing the amount of time they could park.

Alderwoman Michelle Mastropolo (D-1st Ward) said she cannot believe the council is considering putting this burden on college students.

“We welcome the students who come here,” Mastropolo said. “We shouldn’t permit parking in front of homes.”

Other people park on Prospect Terrace when attending events at the college, she added, not just students. She is also concerned about the proposed system expanding to other nearby streets.

Megivern said expansion onto other streets depends on whether people are willing to pay for permits or willing to take the six- to seven-minute walk up and down the hill to campus from their public parking spots.