October 21, 2021

No-parking zone added to Tompkins Street near rail tracks

Council votes 6-0 to make change

Jacob DeRochie/contributing photographer

Common Council voted in favor of a new no-parking zone along this section of Tompkins Street near SUNY Cortland. File photo from March 6, 2019.

Nick Whitt worries mostly about the safety along his stretch of Tompkins Street.

The traffic near the railroad tracks — by the entrance to SUNY Cortland’s West Campus — is transitioning to a 45 mph speed zone for traffic leaving the city. The entrance itself is busy. And all the people parking on the street by his shop — The King’s Den barber shop — can make getting into and out of nearby businesses tricky.

“It doesn’t affect my business,” Whitt said Tuesday over a customer’s head of hair. “But the parking does make it dangerous.”

Council voted, 6-0, in support of the no-parking zone along the section of Tompkins Street. Aldermen Gary Thomas (D-3rd Ward) and Carlos Ferrer (D-6th-Ward) were absent.

Nearby business owners brought the issue to Common Council, worried about safety. Businesses in the area include King’s Den Hairstyling, Stupid Choppers and The Red Dragon.

The zone will restrict parking on the north side of Tompkins Street from Folmer Drive to Joseph Street — a stretch of road two-tenths a mile long. On the south side of the road, parking would be banned from the railroad tracks to Levydale Park — a stretch of road onetenth of a mile long.

Nobody was parking early Tuesday afternoon on that stretch of Tompkins, but the college was on spring break. Whitt said most of the parkers are students looking to avoid buying the passes that allow them to park in the college’s lots near and around the Student Life Center.

“It’s a Catch-22,” Whitt said. “The college is a big part of this community. The students are are part of the business, too.”

Whitt has seen three accidents outside his shop in the past 6 1/2 years, and the extra traffic pulling in and out doesn’t help. But if the businesses have their own parking lots, the streetside parking can limit the businesses’ visibility — Stupid Choppers also sells cars on its lot.

Jason McRae, owner of Stupid Choppers, said he is happy with the vote. “For us, when we moved in, it was a safety issue,” he said.

McRae noticed more traffic in the area because of business and that visibility was poor. A couple of customers were also almost involved in accidents, he added.

“We’re pretty happy with the outcome,” he said.