ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Monday vetoed a bill that would have bolstered inspections of parking ramps across New York.
The Legislature passed the measure in June, but Cuomo, while saying that he “fully agrees that parking structures must be inspected and maintained to ensure they remain safe for drivers," also insists the bill was inconsistent with existing laws that oversee inspection of the ramps.
While on one hand it is true that the state has no laws or regulations requiring public or private parking structures to undergo structural inspections, it is also true that no other state has such a law either.
The proposed law would have mandated structural inspections of parking ramps every five years.
However, the Governor notes that local governments are already in charge inspecting buildings within their bounds.
In his veto message the governor wrote: "This bill would unnecessarily duplicate efforts and require municipalities to expend additional resources, even in cases where there was no cause for concern."
“Well, I think that’s true,” said Kevin Helfer, Parking Commissioner for the City of Buffalo, which owns the vast majority of ramps throughout the city, including almost every one of the major ramps downtown.
“A lot of what was proposed in the law are things that we do consistently already,” Helfer told WGRZ-TV.
The ramps are operated on behalf of the city by a not for profit called Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps (BCAR) whose Executive Director Samuel F. Iraci once served as the city’s Deputy Mayor under the late Mayor James D. Griffin.
“From a general public perspective, who could disagree with more inspections?” asked Iraci, when asked if he felt the state should mandate the inspections. “But when you drill down deeper, you find that in our case, it would have been duplicitous. We’ve done as much as the bill would have required and more on our own.”
Iraci also noted that the parking garages owned by the city are every bit of a city owned asset as is City Hall, but that no one is calling for the state to come in every five years and inspect that building to ensure it is safe for the public to use.
Both Iraci and Helfer told WGRZ-TV that while the ramps may not be subject to full blown engineering inspections on a regular basis, they are visually inspected on a daily basis by employees who work in the ramps.
They also noted that BCAR’s capitol budget calls for $17 million for repairs and improvements in the next five years.
This year the agency bonded more than $4 million to address the wear and tear (crumbling patches with exposed rebar) noticeable on the top floors of the Turner Ramp (opened in 1973) next to the Buffalo City Court building, and the older section of the Augspurger Ramp (opened in1983) which encompasses most of the block bounded by Franklin, Pearl, Chippewa and Huron Streets.
As well, another $1.4 million will be spent to replace the elevators in the 27 year old Fernbach Ramp on Pearl Street.
“A lot of community’s ramps don't last nearly as long as ours… because we put money back into our ramps we make sure they are maintained," Helfer said.