Amsterdam eyeing parking ban to control traffic from booming business

Man speaking at podium

Brent Yager, owner of What-A-Bargain in Amsterdam, responds to concerns over customer parking issues during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. (ASHLEY ONYON/THE RECORDER)

AMSTERDAM — Neighboring property owners say a local law proposed by Amsterdam to prohibit parking on one side of Northern Boulevard at Clizbe Avenue will not solve overflow issues from customers of corner retailer What-A-Bargain.

“It’s not going to do a thing, it’s just going to move traffic from Northern Boulevard to Clizbe,” said Kristi Vertucci, owner of KLV Properties at 178-190 Clizbe Ave. “If something is not changed with the actual flow of traffic in that area I am going to raise hell.”

The Common Council on Tuesday introduced a local law that would prohibit parking from 20 Northern Boulevard to the intersection with Clizbe Avenue on the north side of the street bordering Goodfellas Pizza. A public hearing on the proposal will be held on April 4 at 5:45 p.m.

However, Kristi Vertucci and her father, Terry, during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting argued the measure will not address traffic safety issues or rampant unauthorized parking in private lots by What-A-Bargain’s overwhelming customer volumes at 1 Northern Boulevard.

“Somebody is going to get killed over there,” Terry Vertucci said. “Something’s got to give, because we’re not going to put up with it much longer.”

What-A-Bargain run by Brent and Corey Yager is a liquidation store featuring overstock and returned items stocked in bins at a single price that is reduced throughout the week until all items are sold. The discount retailer that opened last fall often sees bargain hunters lining up outside the doors hours before it opens on restock days, typically on Sundays.

The 16 tenants of KLV and their customers have struggled to get into the parking lot dominated by customers from the business across the street on restock days and are made nervous by the heavy traffic from the retailer, according to Kristi Vertucci.

Surrounding properties have been used as open air restrooms by customers camping out overnight at What-A-Bargain to be the first ones in the door. Traffic cones used to prevent unauthorized vehicles from entering KLV’s parking lot have allegedly been stolen twice.

“I don’t feel it’s my responsibility, nor should it be, to patrol my parking lot,” Kristi Verutcci said. “I put my life savings into that building. I put $900,000 into that building, purchasing and redoing that building and I want all my tenants to succeed just as much as What-A-Bargain has.”

Conceding that customer parking is an issue at the undersized property, Brent Yager said solutions have so far been elusive despite his best efforts.

“We’ve done everything we possibly can to control the crowd. I’m one guy, I cannot control 300 people in line. I do the best I can,” Brent Yager said. “Everybody complains, but nobody has a solution for us. Me and my brother are doing nothing wrong, but running an efficient business.”

Reminders over social media and instructions delivered by megaphone to customers in line to move vehicles parked in unauthorized areas have been ineffective. Indicating a willingness to hire staff to direct traffic, Brent Yager said he’s been told only city employees can do that.

“We don’t tell people to wait overnight, we don’t tell people to go to the bathroom in the woods. We don’t condone that, they just do it. There’s nothing we can really do, except tell them and tell them and tell them, please do not do this,” Brent Yager said.

Although the proposed local law can’t be acted on until after the public hearing is held, 1st Ward Alderwoman Kelly Quist-Demars motioned to table its introduction citing its inability to fully address the broader parking and traffic issues. She suggested gathering input from surrounding property owners to develop an overall solution, instead of taking a piecemeal approach.

“We’ve heard tonight from community members that this is a big problem,” Quist-Demars said. “Certainly there is no disagreement that people shouldn’t be parking in a way that blocks traffic and that our codes should be reflective of that, but it does sound like it’s more than just that.”

Yet, Police Chief John Thomas urged the council to advance the legislation to ensure traffic can flow through the narrow street, which would be impassable by emergency vehicles if parked cars lined both sides. The problem has only been avoided due to winter parking rules.

“Right now we’re covered with alternate parking rules, they can’t park on both sides of the street,” Thomas said. “I think it’s the time to make this in effect as soon as possible.”

Mayor Michael Cinquanti said the city is pursuing further steps to comprehensively address increasing customer traffic in the area with several new and existing businesses grappling with limited parking, including the Lyon Street Bar and Grill and the forthcoming LLV Creekside.

“This is going to be one of the comprehensive steps to limit parking on the street,” Cinquanti said. “I think we can pass this and include it as part of the master plan.”

The city expects to enter an agreement with the Shuttleworth Park Foundation to lease its recently acquired property at 61 Lyon St. for $1 per year to create a public parking lot that would be accessible to patrons at surrounding businesses, according to Cinquanti. Paving plans and safe pedestrian traffic patterns from the long time site of the Kristy Pollak Memorial Light Display still need to be figured out.

The motion to table the local law was defeated by a vote of 2-3. Only Quist-Demars and 2nd Ward Alderman David Gomula sought to hold the legislation.

Despite the failed motion, Quist-Demars said further information about how broader parking and traffic issues will be addressed is needed before the local law prohibiting parking on the north side of Northern Boulevard is considered next month.

Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.

Categories: Business, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, News

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