Members of the Little Falls Traffic Committee, the City Attorney, the City Engineer, and the Chief of Police met to consider parking and traffic flow changes on Second Street.
By Dave Warner
The Little Falls traffic committee met to consider a review of a portion of the revised site plan submitted to the Common Council by LaBella associates/Pennrose LLC to create 18 angled parking spaces on the west side of Second Street between Albany Street and Main Street in connection with the proposed Dairyman project.
Jonathan Schaffer led the meeting and said that the group would make a recommendation to the Common Council. He said, “I want to make sure that whatever comments we have at this meeting pertain just to the proposed 18 slots between Albany Street and Main Street.”
Bianca Rico, who’s in the process of opening up a business on Main Street, started the comments from the floor and said, “I’m just curious. What is the reason for these spots?”
Schaffer said, “I believe the motivation behind the reasoning is to create more parking spaces right around the vicinity of the Dairyman project.”
Joe Lawrence stated, “I would have liked to have seen this sketched out with the proposed changes to Main Street parking. I don’t think you’re getting a complete view of what it’s going to look like.”
He continued saying that we have difficulty with parking now and that he was concerned with what the additional parking would do to the flow of emergency vehicles, delivery vehicles, the infrastructure under the ground when construction begins on the project, and who would be responsible for any damage.
Lawrence also stated he was concerned about the impact on local businesses. “There will be a negative impact in regards to Main Street business owners, but also for people who live on Main Street.”
“Business owners that I’ve spoken to, and I haven’t spoken to all of them, but I’ve spoken to many of them, they all have a negative reaction when we speak about what the additional parking and construction will do,” he stated.
Schaffer stated that any of the plans they have for Main Street are just artist’s conceptions right now. “We have nothing that’s solid. We’re going to try and address these concerns as best as possible.”
Alex Lawrence spoke next and wanted to know if the underground infrastructure could handle the weight of the additional parked cars. “From an engineering standpoint, are we ok?”
City Engineer Chet Szymanski said, “To this point, the City hasn’t done any testing. If it’s something the boards wanted to consider, I would recommend that we do if this moves forward and goes to construction we do a survey before construction, monitoring during construction, and a survey after construction to see if anything has changed. We need to monitor our utilities.”
“With the plan review and the possible approval down the road of this plan, there’s been no engineering or design done for the structural changes to the building yet. How it’s going to be constructed, so I think that the answer right now is that we’re not there yet to know what that impact could be,” he stated.
Dave Casullo introduced himself and said that he was the CEO of Rock City Development and that he knew most of the people, and that their concerns were legitimate. “There has been some engineering work done that has not been discussed yet. I’m not sure why the sequence is a little bit out of order.”
He said that LaBella had done a good amount of work to allay some of the concerns being discussed.
Rita Rose spoke next and said she understood what was being said about the traffic and trying to decide if it was suitable to move forward, but she said, “Let’s not fool ourselves. The bottom line is the project itself and what the end project is going to be at M&T Bank. We wouldn’t be going forward with any of the parking concerns or whatever we’re talking about here if there wasn’t going to be a major structural change at the end of the street.”
She said, “We need to know, not only about this traffic issue on Main Street but also if the Common Council does vote for this plan, why would they vote for it if the goal wasn’t to have this M&T building come down and this new project. I think more people are concerned about that because that’s going to be impacting our City – the future of our City, and that’s a huge concern.”
Rose said that what she is hearing about what is proposed for that building is making her sick now. “We were told something totally different.”
Dave Carpineti said that he thought the 18 spots were for the project, but Sean Farrell, the architect for LaBella said they would not be restricted and that the public would be able to park there.
Melanie Pagan asked if there was a parking spot number for the project.
Farrell wanted to summarize and said the project proposes 77 units with two commercial retail businesses. “The project will include a two-story overbuild on the existing M&T bank with an addition on the back southeast corner of the property within the parking lot area, which would be a five-story addition building.”
The project includes parking, and they have to meet certain requirements based on the use. “The new proposed project requires 84 parking spaces. We are providing 69 parking spaces that include 41 spots in the parking lot, the 18 spots that we’re talking about now, and the ten existing spots that exist on Main Street,” he said.
Joe and Alex Lawrence wanted to know how the 18 parking spots on Second Street could be counted to the number that they needed to move forward, including the ten upfront.
Alex Lawrence stated that those spots didn’t belong to the project but to the business owners on Main Street that needed spots for their customers to park.
Additional concerns were raised about the traffic flow out of the parking lot, trucks coming into Price Chopper, and additional complications on Albany Street. Also, the number of employees that might need parking with the two commercial businesses located in the building and then parking for their customers. “You’re going to create a greater need for parking by putting those other two retail businesses in that building,” stated Joe Lawrence.
Pennrose stated that the project was age-restricted from 62 & up and that eight out of the 77 units would be subsidized, although they were still trying to figure out the actual mix once they get further down their financing plan.
Chief of Police Thomas entered the discussion and pointed out that the drawing he had in his hands had four parking spots marked in red, which City Attorney Jennifer Chrisman pointed out were marked up by Price Chopper.
Pennrose did not deduct those four spots from the 18 proposed, and Thomas stated, “I’m seeing a problem with that.”
Carpineti brought up the ownership of the spots and asked, “Who owns those 18 spots, you, us, the City, who?” Farrell responded that the City would.
Carpineti brought up the wintertime conditions, where there would be no parking on any street. “Where are you going to put all your residents? If you’ve got 77 residents and you only have 41 spots in your parking area, where are they going to go? That’s all I want to know.”
“I would say you need to build your building to fit your parking lot needs,” he stated.
Farrell stated that with the Pennrose history of building these kinds of projects, they found a history of .5 to 1 for a parking ratio. “We are trying to hit the City’s ratio of 1 to 1. So that’s where all this came from.”
A motion was made to recommend the 18 spots be approved, and a second was made. The motion failed 4-0, so a recommendation to create the parking spots will not be forwarded to the Common Council.
Why not tear down the dilapidated empty Berkshire bank building that’s across the street from the Historical Center / next to the Post Office and create more parking there? Do we really think another business or bank is going to go in there?
Tear down a historic structure for parking?
Architecture like that will never again be built.
It’s Jonathan Shaffer.
It’s an eyesore that’s falling down and bringing in $0 tax dollars. It’s dangerous and not log ago had fences around the outside so side walkers wouldn’t get hit by falling debris. There’s a reason Berkshire didn’t want to be there anymore.