With Albany finally getting state permission to regulate parking, the Schenectady City Council may consider a residential parking system, too.
Residents around Ellis Hospital have complained for years that workers fill their streets with cars, forcing them to park blocks away from home.
Those who live near Union College say visitors park everywhere — even on their lawns — during football games, hockey matches and other popular events.
Residents in both areas have asked for residential parking stickers, which would allow them to park there freely while others would be limited to a few hours a day.
But until now, City Council members have said the idea is impractical because it would require state approval. They said the state Legislature would never pass a residential parking system.
On Monday, the governor signed one into law for the residential blocks near the Capitol. Suddenly, the political calculus changed.
“We could look at these types of things,” Council President Gary McCarthy said Tuesday. “Though I believe it took Albany 20 years. We’d hope it wouldn’t take that long.”
He wants the council to discuss parking solutions for the entire city, including the Stockade, where narrow streets and densely filled apartment buildings make parking difficult.
“We hopefully can work something out city-wide,” McCarthy said.
Ellis and Union officials said they would work with the council. They have more than enough official parking, they said. But for those who don’t want to walk or take a shuttle bus, residential street parking is more convenient.
“We have plenty of open and available parking on campus, especially after business hours, when most of our events like football and hockey games take place,” Union College spokesman Phillip Wajda said. “However, people are going to park where they find it most convenient, so naturally there are some who choose to park on public city streets in the surrounding neighborhood.”
At Ellis, it’s the employees who park on residential streets. They, too, have other options — there’s an employee lot five minutes away from the hospital.
“We have a shuttle that runs morning and night, every seven minutes,” said hospital spokeswoman Donna Evans. “We have adequate resources for parking. We encourage them to be good neighbors.”
But many workers prefer to park within walking distance of the hospital rather than wait for a shuttle.
“Parking has perennially been a challenge,” Evans said.
The hospital plans to build a new parking garage near the Ellis emergency department, which also will be expanded. The garage will add another 130 spaces on campus.
“But that’s long-term,” Evans said. The garage may not be built until 2013 or 2014.
McCarthy noted wryly that it may take longer than that for the council to get state permission for residential parking stickers. And the council may not decide to take that step. But, he said, at least a parking shortage is a positive problem — it’s one that indicates businesses and neighborhoods are growing, not dying.
“These are problems you want to have,” he said. “For a long time, people were just moving out.”