TICONDEROGA - Efforts to restore vitality to Ticonderoga's downtown are being stymied by a lack of parking.
That's the belief of some business owners.
Ticonderoga Supervisor Deb Malaney said merchants have approached her expressing concerns about parking in the Montcalm Street area. They are especially worried the former Family Dollar Store parking lot may be closed to the public.
"Our downtown merchants would like to have the town take over the Family Dollar parking lot," Malaney said.
The owner of the now-closed store has expressed concern about liability and may close the parking lot, the supervisor said. The owner is paying about $4,000 a year in liability insurance, she noted.
Some merchants have asked the town to take over the parking lot to ensure downtown shoppers have parking.
"We are concerned about the possibility of the former Family Dollar Store parking lot being closed to the public," said Sue Rathbun, who owns Rathbun Jewelers with her husband Howard. "Since last summer, we have been hearing about this. We have deeded rights to five parking spaces and access to them at the rear of our commercial building. Otherwise the lot is privately owned and probably could be closed off if the owner so desires.
"In our opinion, that would not be a positive move for downtown," Rathbun said. "Instead, we'd love to see the town of Ticonderoga work out a lease agreement with the parking lot owner similar to the one they've had for years with the vacant lot next to Aubuchon Hardware owned by th Reale family. Ideally, the town could assume liability and keep the lot properly plowed and maintained."
Dorcey Crammond, a Ticonderoga trustee, would also like to see the town take over the Family Dollar parking lot. She urged Malaney to contact the owner to discuss the issue.
The Family Dollar lot has been open this winter thanks to Rathbun Jewelers and Community Bank.
"Most people probably do not realize that since the Family Dollar Store closed, Rathbun Jewelers and Community Bank have been paying for plowing to provide access for our customers, but we do not plow the entire lot as it's just too costly," Rathbun said. "And far too often, we don't even have access to the spaces we've paid to have plowed."
Malaney said she will investigate the town's possible involvement with the Family Dollar parking lot.
She also suggested the town investigate establishing parking on town-owned property behind Montcalm Street