BY JIM AUSTIN
THE COOPERSTOWN CRIER
Bassett Heathcare is trying to usurp the two village parking lots on East Lake Road near the entrance to Fairy Springs Park and has put up signs that say the lots are for Bassett Healthcare staff parking only.
“Bassett employees can continue to use the public lots, but the signs claiming it as Bassett staff parking have to come down,” Mayor Jeff Katz said Tuesday morning. “It can’t be designated as a Bassett lot. It’s a public lot they’re using, that’s how I see it.”
In an email Tuesday, a Bassett spokeswoman said the word “only” will be removed from the signs.
Katz said that recently, Village Trustee Dr. Walter Franck, who is employed Bassett, told him there were concerns at the hospital about finding more parking because the village’s south trolley lot was closed during the construction phase of the Gateway Project.
Katz said he spoke to Bassett CEO Dr. William Streck and told him there were all-day parking spaces on some village streets and there were also the two public lots at Fairy Springs.
“I was waiting for the Bassett to give the village an official request,” he said. On Monday Trustee Cynthia Falk went by the lots and reported there were signs up designating the lots as exclusive Bassett parking.
“That’s not legal,” Katz said, adding that if they had requested exclusive use of the lots he would have told them that he believes it is illegal because it is publicly-owned.
Katz contacted Department of Public Works Superintendent Brian Clancy and directed him to notify Bassett that the signs must come down. “As long as the sign comes down, they can park there, just not exclusively,” he said.
The loss of the parking spaces in the trolley lotshould have been no surprise to Bassett. Clancy said he emailed Bassett when the contract for the project was awarded last fall.
“I told them they would lose the parking and that I would give them as much notice as possible as soon as the contractor notified me. Itwould be a minimum of two weeks,” he said.
As the project construction got underway, Bassett told Clancy it needed more time to find additional employee parking.
“We had work that had to be done on the lot and had safety concerns about cars and pedestrians around the machinery,” he said.
Clancy said the two Fairy Springs lots have about 75 or 80 spaces. He said if Bassett fills the two lots on a daily basis this summer, it should not prohibit people from using the park.
“The lots on top are underutilized. Most patrons park below,” he said. “I don’t see where the locals will be inconvenienced.”
Katz agreed. He said it is the least well-known of the village parks and usually it is locals who go there.
“The 10 to 12 parking spaces are usually enough,” he said.
Bassett Healthcare spokeswoman Karen Huxtable-Hooker said in an email, “the village offered Bassett parking at Fairy Springs as a solution to the displacement of employee parking due to the Blue Lot construction. This has been very important in addressing this need and avoiding crowding on village streets. Bassett employees will continue to park there as agreed to with the village. The sign will be modified to eliminate the word only.”
Asked for comment regarding Bassett’s decision not to remove the signs, Katz reiterated his statementthat the lots can not be designated as Bassett parking.
He said there was no discussion about Bassett putting up signs. “Bassett doesn’t have the authority to put up signage on public property,” he said.
BY JIM AUSTIN
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