For years Princeton Borough residents and shoppers have been accustomed to the same parking meter rates. These rates may soon change if the Borough Council approves a proposal now under consideration.
The Traffic and Transit Committee of the Borough Council discussed a plan to increase parking meter rates and hours of operation at its meeting last Wednesday night. Borough merchants have since raised a number of objections to the plan.
According to the plan, parking meter rates on Nassau Street would increase from 60 cents to $1 per hour, explained chair of the Traffic and Transit Committee Arch Davis. Other meters in the borough would increase to 75 cents per hour. Longterm parking rates – defined as more than two hours – would remain the same.
The parking meters would also operate until 8 p.m. instead of the current 6 p.m. shutoff time under the proposal that Davis and Mayor Marvin Reed put forward.
'A counterproductive move'
Merchants have voiced concern over the implementation of the meter plan. "We feel that it would be a counterproductive move," said Richard Carnevale, owner of the Annex Bar & Grill. Gopi Allthoor, manager of Varsity Liquors on Nassau Street, said, "People will leave this town and go somewhere else to shop." They "will spend a dollar for gas and go somewhere else," added Allthoor, referring to stores off Route 1 where parking is free.
"The extension of the hours hits a sore spot," said Carnevale. It "really targets the restaurant and hospitality industry."
Carnevale said free parking after 6 p.m. has increased business in the evenings. He said the extension of meter operation hours would deter customers.
Carnevale also said he predicted movie and theater patrons would find themselves having to leave shows to feed meters during the extended hours.
At the Wednesday meeting, members of the Traffic and Transit Committee were in disagreement over the proposal.
"Many members of the committee thought that a dollar an hour is too much anywhere in town," said Davis. The proposal will formally come before the council for a vote March 10.
Parking meter rates have remained about the same in Princeton Borough for the last 12 years while the cost of living has increased by roughly 50 percent, Davis said.
Davis said the proposal would alleviate some of the parking problems around Nassau Street and would raise much-needed money for the borough.
Davis said the borough currently lacks sufficient funds and partially blames the University.
"There are a lot of people in the town who do not feel that the University carries its responsibility to the town," he said.
However, Pam Hersch, Director of Community and State Affairs at the University, said, "We think we make an enormous contribution to the community both in terms of what we pay and our economic impact on the town."
She added, "We try very hard not to cost the town any money."