Paid Shopper Parking Halted, Again, By Bond Ordinance Failure

Amendments to rates and times approved; equipment bond ordinance fails.

Common Council approved rates and times to implement paid shopper parking but the plan has been halted once again by council's failure to pass the bond ordinance to pay for the plan.

"What we are trying to create is a positive parking experience," said Councilwoman Nuris Portundo, who was present via conference call.


However, Mayor Jordan Glatt asked to delay a vote until September due to the fact that he felt the Democratic process had been shirked when the proposal became an ordinance at the June 21 council meeting after be listed on the agenda as an item for Discussion, Action or Referral.

Glatt said neither he nor Councilmen Steve Murphy or Michael Vernotico receieved any information regarding the ordinance prior to the meeting.

"The fact that half your council had information prior to the others is just to me, really the only word I have to say, I felt … insulted.," Glatt said.

A motion to postpone a final vote on the fee structure amendmens until Sept. 20 was defeated and the ordinance was ultimately approved 4-3. However, the bond ordinance was defeated 4-3 because it needed a 5-2 super majority vote.

The plan would have reduced the current two-hours free parking to 30 minutes and then charged based on a sliding-scale of duration.

  • Up to 90 minutes: $1
  • Up to 2 1/2 hours: $2
  • Up to 3 1/2 hours: $4
  • Up to 4 1/2 hours: $6
  • Up to 5 1/2 hours: $8
  • Up to 6 1/2 hours: $10
  • Up to 7 1/2 hours: $12
  • More than 7 1/2 hours: $20
  • Lost ticket: $20

The changes would apply to all three Deforest Avenue Shopper lots and the lower level of the Tier Garage.

The rates for parking permits for residents and employees is also proposed to increase. A monthly pass would remian $80 while a quarterly pass would increase from $228 to $240 and an annual pass would increase from $864 to $960.

"The whole thing is completely and totally flawed," Vernotico said, citing issues not only with the cost estimates but with the revenue estimates which suggest the project would be paid for by the Parking Utility, not taxes, in 10 years.

"Paid parking is a terrible, horrible, discouraging idea," said resident Joan Bennett. "People will not want to come to Summit to shop."

However, tension arose at the meeting between members of council and between the audience and council when Council President Dave Bomgaars explained council actually already approved the concept of paid shopper parking, and the fee schedule to go with it, back in November.

"This is an ordinance, it is on the books and we are basically making a tweaking tonight," he said.

But resident Gil Owren said no one in the community believed there was paid shopper parking in Summit.

"What is occurring is very, very clever," he said. "When the bond ordinance was defeated in December the perception was that paid parking was defeated, too. This is a hoodwink of the public."

Murphy detailed several other instances over the last year, including the council's vote to censure Vernotico last year over allegations against Councilman Tom Getzendanner, in which council has acted without transparency and honesty.

"They are acting behind a curtain," Murphy said. "There’s a wizard pulling the strings like in Oz."

amdz July 13, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Hey Guy, I will not only echo your words, but take it one step further. Ms. Portuondo’s physical absences and her participations by phone have clearly made her ineffectual. Her 15-minute, long-winded, messy rant was ill-timed and drew laughs and shock from the audience. Dozens of people held up the “time-out” sign with their hands. Her calling-in to meetings is simply not working. Ms Portuondo’s work travel schedule is taking her away from council and committee meetings. She has no ability to interact with or get the pulse of the meeting (or community) from the road and this was clearly evident last night. In the interest of what is best for Summit, Ms. Portuondo should resign from council, or alternatively find a job that can allow her to serve Summit effectively and appropriately.
E Purcell July 13, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Thanks to Murphy, Vernotico and Dixon for voting the bond ordinance down.
anonymous July 14, 2011 at 01:33 PM
I think paid parking is fine and will have the added bonus of keeping hoodlums from recreating in our parking structures. These structures are notoriously rife with all sorts of badly behaving youth!
jeff July 14, 2011 at 02:00 PM
Horrible news to Summit residents. We need better process and transparency. The Council must be investigated for any inappropriate actions. Besides, did the council conduct any impact study by an independent third party? Downtown Summit already looks like a ghost town. As for hoodlums, making these structures paid parking will not solve the problem. Most of them are not there. They are all over near Union Pl.
Michael Vernotico July 14, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Just as a point of clarification, the proposal which I, along with the Mayor and Councilman Murphy help defeat would have called for unattended parking lots. Part of the rationale for this type system was that it would in effect require little enforcement activity. Therefore you would go from a system with routine daily active presence of parking enforcement employees to virtually no presence. Lacking a presence would arguably make all these lots significanlty less safe, certainly not more. Councilman Mike Vernotico
Terry Turko July 14, 2011 at 03:19 PM
How long do the people of Summit get to watch while most of their representatives on Council rule from behind a wall. Are they governing for the town or for themselves? According to law nothing ever should be decided behind closed doors - discussion can be had but decisions should be made with full Council discussion and community input. Elections cannot come too soon. It is time to change what some of us see as a very disfunctional Council that does not seem to think involving even their own members in decisions is necessary. TCT
Ilir Bitici July 14, 2011 at 04:15 PM
A complex paid parking system would drive consumers followed by retailers out of town. As for the alleged young "hoodlums", I don't see how paid or not paid makes a difference for them, they are on skateboards, bikes and on foot they will enter the parking lots and decks without paying and they will come and go as they please. These Supposed young "Hoodlums" are not the ones that scare me, its the members of council that operate shamefully behind closed doors with out transparency, conducting backroom deals.
mary Reinebach July 14, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Parking is free in some areas near Summit. Why are people on the Council if they don't attend all the meetings and hide some of the facts? We're paying some of the highest taxes in NJ, so we should be served better.
anonymous July 14, 2011 at 05:43 PM
there should be parking attendents for security.
Max-M July 15, 2011 at 12:04 AM
"This is an ordinance, it is on the books and we are basically making a tweaking tonight," ... if this is correct why are they ticketing cars parked in the lots? Shouldn't the parking attendant or automatic gate be collecting a fee? I really hope this is not the case.
janie rachlin July 15, 2011 at 02:14 AM
What angers me most about this new "parking experience" some of the council is trying to sell us on is that our customers are being penalized because of the few selfish drivers with a sense of entitlement who think it's OK to take shopper spaces for free all day. If I can recognize the same cars every day shouldn't the meter patrol people also notice the same cars every day!? There is room for employees to park in the tiered garage and maybe with an incentive lower cost to pay every day they might move their cars up and free shopper spaces and spare us the customer outrage of these new expensive parking rates. Council is making a terrible mistake in these shaky financial times by forcing this down our throats without more consideration to a struggling downtown AND ,why are they in such a hurry. I think the "parking experience" should be changed to the "spend time in downtown Summit experience" and not try to chase people out of town by exorbitant parking fees, after all, the City did spend plenty of $$$$ to spruce up our downtown to make it walking friendly. Now, It seems that some of our council members have their own agenda and it sure doesn't agree with the general public that they should be representing. (by the way, who is the mysterious council member who lives in that little phone and never stops talking??!!)
Charles Muller July 15, 2011 at 01:23 PM
I agree with Janie, we are poised to be penalized with fees and ultimately higher taxes because of a failure to enforce parking rules that are already on the books. Let's free up the parking spots that are reserved for shoppers and have the downtown employees park in their designated areas. While that may not be convenient for them, a short walk is not too much to ask for a vibrant downtown that will benefit shoppers, business owners and employees as well. Start there before spending money to solve the “parking shortage”. If Mr. Murphy's allegations are true, then those who are being less than transparent should be shown the door.
Ken July 15, 2011 at 01:32 PM
You know, they used to use a thing called chalk on the tires to ticket cars that over stayed their welcome. I guess that would be too simple of an idea to deal with the "issue" of space hogging. Or maybe the issue is revenue generation!
Robert Steelman July 15, 2011 at 02:59 PM
I attended the council meeting with the hope that progress would be made on the issue of parking improvements. Instead of progress on the parking issue, I saw a train wreck. Councilmen Rich Madden made the only useful point the entire evening. Parking improvements are needed. How are they going to be fairly funded? User fees make the most sense. Now to the train wreck. The presentation by the City Administrator was weak. His reaching for conclusions and solutions which weren’t properly studied can give no one confidence in the City’s ability to make improvements. Agree or not with Council President Dave Bomgaars he is due some respect for his position and his right to move forward on the issues as he sees fit. This article reported Mr. Murphy’s second outburst but not his first loss of composure. The earlier eruption leads to Council President asking Mr. Murphy to respect decorum or step aside. The usually exchange of opinions followed and Gil Owren made his points. Gil is one of the most clever people I know, I mean that as a compliment, but he used the term “clever” to scold the Council President’s actions. This was unfortunate. The final act of the evening was the vote. Regardless of the outcome, it was fascinating to see Guy Haselmann exchange hand signals with councilmen Mike Vernotico during the vote. Does Summit have a shadow councilmen or a puppet? Robert Steelman Member of the Public with Summit business interests
TSH July 15, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Are these televised or recorded? Are the council meetings recordings available online? I think that would help with transparency or at least get more people involved.
Max-M July 15, 2011 at 06:10 PM
I think everyone agrees parking in Summit is a problem. But, what is the issue? Lack of transparency, a silent process, hidden agendas, mismanagement, communication, in-fighting amongst Council members, failure to effect a members' resignation? Clearly, this falls on leadership. What I do not understand is why the same collective Council members support the same flawed agenda without discussion with their constituents?
Michael Vernotico July 16, 2011 at 05:46 AM
For the record, Mr. Steelman is a resident of Chatham and supported the expenditure of $15 million of Summit taxpayer monies to build a four story garage on Woodland and Deforest Avenues. Once again, a parking garage is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. It is a shame that you sat in the meeting and remained silent choosing this venue instead. Then again, everyone in that room that spoke was opposed to moving forward with these inane ordinances. Quite the man of conviction aren't we Mr. Steelman? Oh and by the way, I have been accused a variety of things over the years Mr. Steelman, but being a "puppet" has never been one of them. In fact, I have been branded as an Independent, which I happily accept. As my colleague Councilman Murphy has stated, there is someone behind the curtain pulling the strings, but they are attached to a number of others, not me. Councilman Mike Vernotico
Robert Steelman July 16, 2011 at 09:43 AM
Mr Vernotico. What I support are things that help the vitality of Summit as a business center. I’m not alone in supporting an increase in capacity of parking resources in the downtown. I’m glad you brought up the DeForest Ave. parking structure concept that was debated a couple of years ago. The concept was worth exploring then and is still worth consideration. However, I was never in favor of the concept as presented. It was odd to me that somehow the taxpayer funded Desmond study baked-in a developer’s concept of a parking structure with a commercial space component. You may want to ask others in the City Administration and the Mayor how that came about. Please save the 800 pound gorilla talk for your campaign. Yes some candidates do find it’s easier to run against imaginary dangers. Right now I want to see progress made on improvements in parking, even a small step forward. Positive action of any type by common council seems a remote prospect given the rancor you foster amongst the other members. I attend meetings of other governing bodies and rarely see the neighbor on neighbor attack you seem to favor. I also don’t see any form of communications with the public, verbal or non-verbal, once public comment stops for council deliberation on an ordinance as was the case in the last meeting. It’s a slippery slope when respect for the rules and decorum is lost.
Robert Steelman July 16, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Good to hear from you Guy. The commercial interest of Summit is no small matter. To be accurate I represent tenants as well as property owners. In both cases, they are small businesses trying their best to run successful enterprises in Summit. I have a fiduciary duty to them and won’t shy away from looking out for their interests. That said. The Downtown organization of SDI is the body that should actively participate in the parking discussions. I hope they take a more proactive role. You raised the issue of my credibility and residency. Please refer to the legal definition of Public. It’s not your place to restrain my participation or that of anyone else. You have a right to your opinion; I have that same right along with the other business people of Summit.
sharon shrensel July 17, 2011 at 11:37 AM
We have a professional practice in Summit as well as live in town. Our clients spend nearly an hour in our offices, and also shop either before or after their appointments. It is unwise to chase more shoppers out of town or hurry them from using the local restaurants. Our end of town is already a ghost town!
Robert Steelman July 17, 2011 at 02:36 PM
There is no private paid parking resource in Summit. Summit businesses, for the most part, rely on municipal lots for visitors and employee parking. Yes, my agenda is related to commercial business issues. It strikes me that your motive is to forward a mean-spirited political agenda. You defend your strident approach as, in your words, "best interests for the whole of the City of Summit." What peerage is needed to make such a high-minded claim? Purely political charged debate, promoted by people like you claiming some superior high moral ground leads to dis-functional local governance. It also promotes misinformation since facts are not needed. Facts and people who don’t jive with your point of view are lies and liars. You are not the only resident to go down this road. We are stilling dealing with the residual misinformation that the downtown is a “ghost town” full of empty store fronts and failing business. None of which is true. The Summit downtown has bounced back strong and leads surrounding towns in attracting new business. Only a few vacancies remain with several nearing completion of lease terms. Good news for a downtown of about 300 store fronts. Thanks largely to an improving marketplace, good landlords and SDI. No thanks to a narrow political agenda.
ressummit July 17, 2011 at 03:57 PM
I am simply amazed at the number of comments that ascribe some "hidden agenda" or "conspiracy" to "hoodwink" Summit residents. It could not possibly be that these are simply honest attempts by honest well-intentioned people to find a reasonable and rationale solution to the parking problem which we have in Summit. Rather than have an intelligent discourse some people have to resort to personal attacks. I think the one positive that these comments and the televised Council meetings have shown is that clearly Mike Vernotico does not have the demeanor to act as Mayor of the City of Summit. We need council members who can engage in constructive respectful debate with the ability to build a consensus.
Dot Connector July 17, 2011 at 08:30 PM
Ressummit, your optimism is commendable. Having a “constructive respectful debate” is exactly what many residents seek. Unfortunately, the “hidden agenda” and disrespectful tone materialized from President Bomgaars actions and not out of thin air. The “conspiracy” talk would have likely been eliminated had Bomgaars been able to explain one of two simple questions. First, the mayor and several residents asked, “what’s the hurry - why can’t this vote wait until September?” Bomgaars never answered this simple question. He ignored the numerous residents who spoke out and basically said to a shocked council chambers ‘I have the votes, it’s my decision, so I am moving forward with this”. Secondly, Bomgaars never addressed or admitted why the Mayor, Vernotico and Murphy had not received the ordinance material like the others did. So unfortunately, as long as “the Bomgaars 5” fails to provide answers to these simple questions, “hidden agenda” discussions are justified and will remain – and their honesty and intentions will, and should, continue to be questioned.


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