Published On: Sun, Sep 18th, 2016

New Hope Citizens, Businesses Still in the Dark about Massive Parking Rate Increase

meterBusiness owners, employees, and residents of New Hope are entering their third week of waiting for substantive information to emerge on a plan announced by borough leaders to raise local parking meter rates by 100% on Oct. 18.

Why New Hope’s leaders would seek to double parking rates at a time when many local businesses are reeling from a summer season characterized by prolonged periods of extreme heat and torrential rains is a mystery to many.

Borough Council President Bill Scandone, Mayor Larry Keller, and Revitalization Committee Chair Joe Franlin say it’s because of a shortage of parking spaces in New Hope caused by employees of businesses snatching up all the good spots near where they work on Main Street. They contend that doubling the rates on Main Street parking meters will drive local workers farther away from the center of town, leaving more parking space for visitors. Paying twice as much to park at Main Street meters “would be a bargain for visitors, given the rates charged by private lots,” according to Scandone.

The problem is that Scandone is refusing to disclose which parts of Main Street will be affected, at what times, whom he has consulted and when, and why he hasn’t talked to business owners about creating a solution to address the crisis caused by blue collar workers seeking to park their cars near where they work. He says that doubling the cost of parking meters should be viewed as a convenience by New Hope visitors.

(left to right) Revitalization Committee Member Jules Sghiaiti, Borough Council Member Connie Gering, and Council President Bill Scandone.

(left to right) Revitalization Committee Member Jules Sghiaiti, Borough Council Member Connie Gering, and Council President Bill Scandone.

Scandone has been working closely on the parking scheme with Franlin of the Revitalization Committee, who in turn has been advised by a “Parking Subcommittee,” including Borough Council members Cliff Montgomery and Connie Gering, and Subcommittee Chair Dee Dee Bowman, all of whom would not comment for this story.

“There is no gag order,” asserted Gering in a statement. “Bill is handling the parking you need to speak with him.”

Scandone declined comment.

While his lack of communication with voters and businesses alike on a crucial economic issue facing the borough is difficult to fathom, Scandone’s seeming ambivalence toward the New Hope business community, and admiration of Lambertville’s, appears consistent over time.

“I want to continue to be able to strike the balance between commercial [sic], separating that from smaller business, and the needs of residents,” he said in an October 2013 interview. “I see at least three constituents.”

“Commercial” for Scandone means bigger businesses, like the luxury conference center that will replace Odette’s restaurant, and Bucks County Playhouse, he has said.

New Hope retailer God Save the Qweens.

New Hope retailer God Save the Qweens.

“It appears to me that the evolution is definitely moving toward entertainment and dining, and I think that’s good. I think that makes a lot of sense,” he said in 2013, while running for a second term on borough council.

“I’m part of a group that’s going to be looking at the future of New Hope,” Scandone said. “You can buy things that these eclectic shops have just as easy if not easier by going to a website — that’s basically economic Darwinism.

“You can park in New Hope, or park in Lambertville, walk across a beautiful, scenic bridge, and you can have dining in both towns, you have galleries in both towns, so all it does for us in terms of tourism is bring more people into town. Remember, they have incredible restaurants in Lambertville.”

Meanwhile, back in present-day New Hope, 97% of businesses polled last week by the New Hope Chamber of Commerce said they oppose a parking rate increase.

In another strange twist, current and former members of the New Hope Chamber say Scandone and other borough officials have tried since last year to persuade their group to effectively dissolve and merge itself into the Lambertville “Rivertowns” Chamber. Scandone, Franlin and Montgomery wouldn’t comment.

“If members of Council have done this in an official capacity, it’s wrong,” said Borough Council Member Claire Shaw, who also formerly served as president of the group, and was the only official contacted for this article who was willing to speak.

New Hope Borough Council Member Claire Shaw.

New Hope Borough Council Member Claire Shaw.

Unfortunately, Shaw wasn’t able to fill in the blanks on the Scandone-Franlin parking plan.

“I haven’t seen the ‘current’ parking proposal to which you refer,” Shaw explained. “I simply don’t know what the current proposal encompasses and have not been privy to the details. Nor am I aware of a vote scheduled for October. I do know the 2010 [parking] study showed there is plenty of parking in New Hope, however it is not necessarily convenient parking.”

Continued Shaw, “With regard to the employees causing the parking problem in New Hope, I don’t have the facts to support that claim, however, when the meters are bagged over the [Christmas] holiday, one often sees the same cars parked at the free meters in the center of the business district.”

That Shaw, a seasoned member of Borough Council, is apparently being kept in the dark about the parking proposal along with the rest of New Hope would seem, at minimum, to point to a serious communication problem, and raises the question of what other ideas to “revitalize” the local economy are being hatched in the back rooms of New Hope.

 

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Displaying 12 Comments
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  1. Bill Scandone says “You can buy things that these eclectic shops have just as easy if not easier by going to a website — that’s basically economic Darwinism.” Really?
    Isn’t New Hope known for its art and eclecticism? We should just encourage people to buy their art and objects on Amazon or Etsy? Is this someone who should be on the Borough Council? Really?

  2. As a local, and an employee who pays 1 percent of my income to the borough for the right to work here, I feel that if the reason for raising the rate is to move “us” to the backstreets, it’s a discrimination of services….

  3. dbdvanillacorp@aol.com' Doug says:

    I try to ride a bicycle when visiting New Hope whenever possible so that I do not have to deal with the New Hope parking issues. Of course you can’t carry too many purchases when riding a bicycle.

  4. He.kopelow@verizon.net' Herb Kopelow says:

    Maybe Mr. Scandone should walk through town and see the 31 empty businesses. Raising parking rates will only chase away shoppers. City council should be looking for ways to bring people to New Hope. The parking situation already deters residents from shopping locally.

  5. I don’t understand why they don’t go back to the old fashioned parking standards in which they could get a good deal more of revenue from violations. They “moderened” themselves out of money. Might be a good time to go retro.

  6. This is one of the the main town revenue source for these bums so of course their going to double it without a logical explanation and decline to explain further. I got ticketed for parking at a meter that was “having maintenence” done – came back no more then 10 minutes later and it was magically repaired and even had time on it! Then it turned into a haggling match at the station with an officer who refused to come out and see me face to face so he kept sending The secretary- “okay, we’ll bring it down to $17…. $15 is our final offer or pay all $25” unbelievable. Got the old bait and switch and shakdeown by NHPD.
    To double the parking cost to make up for a slow summer is shooting yourself in the foot and then to blame it on small business owners?!

  7. “I’m part of a group that’s going to be looking at the future of New Hope,” Scandone said. “You can buy things that these eclectic shops have just as easy if not easier by going to a website — that’s basically economic Darwinism.

    is this guy DAFT? Funky little shops are exactly why people go to New Hope and then have drinks and dinner…

  8. There should be a name/credit for the dog pictured with Claire Shaw.

    Also, the “workers” wouldn’t park in those spots on the street as it costs too much versus what they earn on the job.

    Silly New Hope.

  9. Lennon78@usa.com' Phil says:

    F. THE parking meters in Manhattan are cheaper than NH saturday Sunday is parking the rest of the week no problem

  10. lasanto2002@yahoo.com' Linda Santo says:

    As a Lambertville resident, I am fortunate enough to be able to walk to New Hope now. But before I lived here, there were times when I drove to New Hope, and could not find any parking at all, and just left. I believe that much of the traffic in town is people just looking for parking. So if higher parking rates free up more spaces, and eases traffic, I think it will benefit local businesses. But I must add that it’s the eclectic shops and restaurants that have always brought me to New Hope, not large commercial and entertainment venues. What makes the great little shops of New Hope better than a website is that you find what you didn’t know you needed. Shopping online is NOT the same.

  11. Is it just me or does Scandone seem to be against the small shop owner in New Hope?

  12. Gordonbwolfe@yahoo.com' Gordon Wolfe says:

    This entire proposal is based upon complete obfuscation of the truth. In reality the system put in place some time back of using a parking app has reduced the amount of parking tickets given out. As we know, parking tickets have been a major source of income to the city and this would be a step to replace some of that lost revenue. Additionally, the residents, who presently are very unhappy with the parking situation, would be further burdened by this new plan.

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