In Caz, motorists get a 'free pass'

Those who are ticketed for exceeding two-hour parking limits in the village of Cazenovia might be relieved to find a welcome surprise: A free pass. At a well-attended special public hearing Monday Nov. 16, the village of Cazenovia passed a new local law. Under the new ordinance, first-time offenders are issued a warning, with the usual $10 fine charged on subsequent violations. Motorists are allowed one "free pass" every six months.

"Parking is a problem in Cazenovia," said village trustee Peggy Van Arnam. "We have become painfully aware of that recently with a number of letters from mostly people from out of town who are outraged that they mistakenly parked somewhere they shouldn't and received a parking ticket."

The new law was enacted as a short-term solution to what many local merchants and property-owners consider one of the village's most pressing concerns; parking tickets are discouraging visitors from returning to the village.

"I think what we're trying to do is not have people go away mad -- especially out-of-town visitors," Van Arnam said.

The warning was modeled on a similar courtesy program in Skaneateles. First-time offenders are left a courtesy envelope with a message that Van Arnam praised as "extremely gracious." Those who receive a courtesy envelope are encouraged to send in any amount of money they would like.

The program nets an average of $2.35 per envelope; less than the revenue earned from a regular ticket, but more than the amount of money that would be put into a parking meter.

Van Arnam is heading a parking committee working to address the many aspects of the village's parking issues. The committee's first organizational meeting was held last week.

"We did decide to focus first on identifying areas that might be able to absorb cars during their off-peak hours. The library lot is one such area that is currently underused except at peak times," she said. "It's important for people to know where they can park."

The village passed the ordinance with the intent of revisiting it in January to consider possible changes to the law and its implementation. Those with suggestions for Van Arnam and the parking committee are invited to send their thoughts to pgvanarnam@aol.com.

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