NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – The Niagara Falls City Council defeated a measure Monday to pay an outside firm to help implement a new parking system, even though the mayor said a state contract mandates the city to update its parking technology at some point.
Charles Walker, Glenn Choolokian and Robert Anderson, Jr., voted against Mayor Paul Dyster's measure to pay Desman Associates up to $95,000 to update a parking study and oversee the overhaul of the city's parking system. If passed, the item would have added parking meters to downtown streets, enhanced the technology on ramps and surface lots and created an administrative position to supervise the work of a private parking company, a process Dyster has estimated would cost about $1 million.
But opposing council members said too many questions remained regarding the agreement with Desman Associates. Choolokian also voted against a similar measure in September, in which the city would have set aside $1 million in the budget for the costs of revamping the system. He said on Monday "that $95,000 could be spent on something else," citing a previous payment to Desman Associates and questioning the validity of the studies.
But Dyster said the city is mandated by the state to overhaul its parking technology, as a part of an agreement after the state helped fund a city parking ramp.
"What we were obligated to do is put in new control systems. We haven't done that yet. They've been patient, because they know we're working on this," Dyster said.
Councilwoman Kristen Grandinetti called it a "no-brainer," and Councilman Andy Touma also spent several minutes advocating for the measure before voting 'yes.'
But it appears the city will have to get back to work to find another option.
"Right now we have kind of a chaotic situation downtown," Dyster said. "We have an obligation and we have not fulfilled it as of yet."