TROY — Concerned over creating a potentially poor precedent for designated spaces and no price tag specifics, councilmembers rejected Council President Carmella Mantello’s hopes to provide free parking for veterans.
Mantello was outnumbered 5-2 on an ordinance which would designate parking spaces for former military service members, widows, and widowers by Veterans Day. During the Thursday Finance Committee meeting, she insisted that the cost of the initiative was low, it wouldn’t create a parking burden, and Mayor Patrick Madden’s administration would figure out lingering details within upcoming months, but that didn’t pivot the Council.
“Was there a reason this should’ve come to the finance committee without financial information attached?” Councilman TJ Kennedy said.
The council president said that she could shore up a financial impact study before the Aug. 2 City Council meeting through the comptroller. Deputy City Comptroller Andrew Piotrowski told members that it would be impracticable to put together a report in due time with other priorities.
Councilman Anasha Cummings put together “brief math” on what the program could cost: about $40,000, he estimated. Mantello, in response, said his numbers were invalid because of new kiosks and meters included in the city’s downtown parking study.
Councilman Jim Gulli was the only member to give the ordinance a thumbs up, but on the condition that he would have more specifics by the next meeting, Aug. 2.
“I’d really like to be comfortable in what I pass through and emotionally I’d say it’s all about our veterans, but logically I’d say, ‘I need some information,’” Gulli said.
Mantello said that she did provide the Council with information on the parking study and insisted there was enough space to fit designated parking spaces one in each metered zone on city blocks and parking garages.
Overall, the proposal allowed one spot for each of 67 parking kiosks and seven parking garages or city lots.
According to Mantello, the ordinance was inspired by veteran parking at Home Depot and in Utica. Fending off worries that the spaces could create parking challenges, based on feedback from Utica local government, she said that city isn’t overwhelmed by the initiative.
Councilman Mark McGrath and Councilwoman Coleen Murtagh Paratore explained another concern: opening up designated parking could set a bad precedent.
“I would say if we set a precedent with something like this then other groups could come forward and say, ‘why not honor our retired Troy teachers this way or our retired firefighter department vets or EMT workers so that’s why I’m voting no,” she said.