Parking Panic Looms for Oneonta, New York Businesses
In a recent article entitled "Parking in Downtown Oneonta Sucks", I lamented the issues I've encountered while trying to park in Oneonta's downtown core. My perspective is that of a commuter, someone who comes to Oneonta daily to work. While my frustrations are valid, they're understandably eclipsed by the true heroes of the day: small business owners on and around Main Street.
During a recent stroll in the sun on a warm day, I decided to get a random stratified sample of how business owners and managers are coping since the closure of the parking garage. I went looking for perspective, and found more that I bargained for. Spoiler alert: locations are seeing the impacts of the loss of parking spots in the form of lack of business.
Fresh Out of Patience
My first stop was Get Fresh on the Main, a café that opened in 2022 and focuses on foods that are fresh and local. Owner Christina Sonnenberg said:
My regulars have made a conscious decision to not patronize Main Street as a result of the lack of parking.
At 11:30 AM on a Thursday, prime time for cute local cafes, there was not one patron present. Though it picks up later in the day, it should be steadily busy all day. Additionally, Sonnenberg's food distributor can no longer service her, she now has to trudge out to Morris, where her food is waiting for her at Weaver's Farm Market.
Get on the Train
A couple of weeks back I was craving a Subway sandwich and decided to stop in for a quick bite. At that point, the entrance was obscured by walkway construction, and workers lamented said construction and parking contributing to a lack of business. This time around, I chatted with store manager Apricott Conaway. Her view is of a worker as well as a downtown resident:
It makes it difficult for workers getting tickets and having to park in two hour spots. It does lower the amount of customers coming in. There are lots of complaints from people coming in. I live downtown. There's no accommodation for residents. Am I supposed to wake up at night to avoid tickets? Maybe let us buy parking passes.
The Geezers of the Block
Maxwell's Specialty Shop has been a downtown Oneonta mainstay since the last century. It just sounds cool to say that. They've seen and survived through economic downturns, pandemics, and everything downtown has thrown at it. I figured they'd be a great barometer of the current situation. Manager Mike Zoeller said:
Lack of parking has had a negative impact on business. College students have noticed that there's no parking anymore. Baseball tourists have said the same thing.
While My Guitar Shop Gently Weeps
Mountain Jam Guitars proprietor John Halberian had similar words on the topic. He said:
Business has been negatively impacted, but I can't measure. People have complained to me about the parking. It's adversely affected business on Main Street, probably every business. We can't live without parking.
Halbernian went one step further, offering ideas for solutions. He feels that the existing garage should at least go through assessment to see if repairing the structure is appropriate as opposed to demolishing and rebuilding. He says that the time and money could be better spent, repairing the garage in stages saving money, and accelerating the return of places to park.