I am concerned I was misunderstood at the recent Rockland parking forum. To clarify my position:

Having experienced summers in Rockland for many years as a tourist before becoming a resident over a year ago, I would like to share my unique perspective. During the meeting, another participant, Eddie, spoke to the fact that “free parking” is viewed as having zero cost, but it isn’t actually free.

As a person who used to live in a major metropolitan area, I held the assumption that I would be required to pay to park in any downtown area, and I was happy to do so when visiting. There were times I parked in downtown Rockland and spent unnecessary time studying the signage. I experienced confusion trying to understand if I was in a city lot, or if I was in a private lot that came with the risk of being towed if I left the premises. I expected to pay to park and would walk around looking for pay stations or signage indicating what online platform I would need to download in order to pay. The fact that I found ample free parking in Rockland was truly a shock.

Many tourists who visit our city share the expectation that free parking is not a given. There is a revenue opportunity that should be explored. However, the opportunity to increase revenue from visitors should not be placed above the needs of the community.

As a resident now, I love the fact that Rockland has so many unique small businesses. I prefer to shop at our local retailers. Since moving to Rockland, my disposable income is more limited. To pay to park would further decrease the amount I have to spend in the local businesses.

I would like to see the parking study look for ways to increase revenue from visitors without harming our local communities. Is there a way to keep parking free for locals while also requiring those from away to pay? I am familiar with the idea of parking decals being issued so that local residents can park for free, but others must pay. Perhaps there is a way for residents of Rockland and the surrounding towns to be issued a parking permit that allows 2 hour free parking in municipal lots, but requires those from outside our community to pay an hourly fee.

My biggest concern in developing a blended program is that the cost of running the program and obtaining the equipment needed could be greater than the revenue generated.

I hope the parking study is able to shed light on if there is a way to create a win-win system.

Katie Dolan

Rockland

This letter was written in response to a recent story published in The Courier-Gazette.

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