Last month, on a Thursday night, Carol and I went to downtown Albany for our monthly dinner together, alone, a restaurant in a local hotel. We wanted to take advantage of the $16.09 deal, whereby several downtown restaurants all put out a special menu of an all-inclusive dinner (appetizer, main course, dessert) for $16.09. (1609 was the year Henry Hudson became the first European to reach what is now Albany.)
We had a lovely dinner, and came out to our car, parked on North Pearl Street, at a location where there is a parking meter operational from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Since we got there shortly before 7 p.m., and were coming back about 8:25 p.m. , we were surprised - and not a little distressed - to have received a ticket for parking in a No Parking zone, at 8:18 p.m., a mere seven minutes before our unrushed return. Then we noticed all the cars in front and in back of us also got tickets. Only three weeks earlier, the city had posted signs - three or four car lengths from us - indicating that this part of North Pearl was now a taxi stand on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The $50 ticket far outstripped whatever we saved on dinner, and it left the evening with a bit of a sour taste in our mouths - no pun intended.
The next day, I called the Downtown Business Improvement (BID) office. I told some young man my plight, and the plight of the other folks. Knowing we're technically in the wrong, it nevertheless seemed as though this was no way to attract people downtown. He agreed and said he'd see what he could do, though he thought the police were supposed to be putting out only warning tickets.
A couple days later, he called back to note that all of the tickets issued on North Pearl Street before 10 p.m. during the $16.09 week would be canceled. Based on just the ones we saw, that was more than a few dozen citations.
So, thanks to the Downtown BID, who has gotten us to want to come downtown yet again. But this time, we'll check the signs more carefully.
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