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Village sets two-hour limit for municipal lot

WATKINS GLEN—As soon as signs can be installed, parking in the village’s Third Street lot will be limited to two hours.
The village Board of Trustees voted 3-0 Monday to establish the new time limit in the municipal lot at Third Street near Franklin Street.
Prior to the vote, there had been no time limit in the 32-space lot on the north side of Third Street.
Trustees Nick Kelly, Wayne Weber and William Smagner voted to impose the new time limit. Mayor Judy Phillips did not vote and Trustee Gregory Coon was not present for the vote.
The plan for two-hour parking was proposed by Jim Guild, owner of Famous Brands clothing store. Guild plans to open Seneca Lake General Store this summer in the former hardware store building at Third and Franklin streets.
He told the village earlier that he would “pull the plug” on the project unless they changed the municipal lot to two-hour parking to create spaces for his customers.
The trustees Monday first considered dividing the lot by having two-hour parking in one half and no time limit in the other half.
Kelly said that wouldn’t work.
“It’s just too complicated,” he said. “They’re going to abuse this if they do that. The right thing is two-hour parking.”
Weber said he favored a compromise that would leave one row of all-day parking and three rows of two-hour parking, but that idea failed to gain support.
Watkins Glen resident Raphael Specchio Jr. added his support for two-hour parking Monday.
“Tourism is still our bread and butter,” Specchio said. “We want tourists to have a place to park, be comfortable and spend money with us. Shame on those businesses that think the village of Watkins Glen has to provide parking for their employees.”
The other village-owned parking lot, between Fourth and Fifth Streets, is already limited to two-hour parking.
The Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce endorsed Guild’s plan for two-hour parking, as did Chemung Canal Trust Co.
Mayor Judy Philips said she is concerned that two hours is not long enough for some visitors who come to the village for shopping, eating and sightseeing. Mark Stephany of Watkins Glen also suggested that some slots provide parking for longer than two hours for the convenience of visitors.
Guild said parking tickets are given so infrequently that “chances are you could be there four hours and not get a ticket.” One check showed that the village issues about four overtime parking tickets a week during July and August.
Guild told the trustees earlier that he plans to open Seneca Lake General Store, organized on the model of an old country store, during the July 4 weekend.

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