Princeton Council to Raise Fees at Spring Street Garage, Eliminate Free Library Parking

The municipal garage on Spring Street in downtown Princeton.
The municipal garage on Spring Street in downtown Princeton.

First, the good news for people who park at the Spring Street Garage in downtown Princeton while they make a quick purchase or run an errand. The town is planning to extend the half hour people park are allowed to park in the garage for free up to one full hour.

Now, the bad news for library patrons who like to park at the garage and spend one to two hours at the library. The town is planning to eliminate the two hours of free parking now offered to library patrons.

Currently patrons get their parking tickets stamped at the library to qualify for two free hours of parking. Bob Hough, infrastructure and operations director for the town, said  the library is not meant to be in the business of doing validating parking tickets.

“We want to move away from that,” Hough told the Princeton Council Monday night. “A lot of people walk in and out of the library to validate a ticket, and they never take out a book. They just come in to punch a ticket. We are losing money in that regard.”

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller said offering a free hour of parking for everyone instead of just half an hour seems like a good solution.

“It makes a lot of sense,” she said. “I’ve seen with my own eyes that people go in the library just to validate their tickets.  The library doesn’t like it.”

Within the next month, town employees will make recommendations on fee increases at the garage. The new fees will probably go into effect at the beginning of 2016.

The parking garage system at the municipal garage (the garages on Hulfish and Chambers are private and are not part of the upgrades) will be also upgraded the week of September 14, officials said. People will still be able to park there while equipment is being installed. Parking will be free for a few days while the work is being done.

Current municipal garage rates:

Monday – Sunday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.:

Under 30 minutes – Free
30 to 60 minutes – $1.25
2nd hour – $1.25
3rd hour – $1.25
4th hour – $1.25
5th and 6th hours – $1.50
7th and subsequent hours – $2.00
24 hours $23.00

Monday to Sunday 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
Each Hour or any portion – .25


  1. Sell the Spring Street garage to the highest bidder and get it on the tax roll. Princeton’s part-time elected officials have neither the time nor the qualifications to be running parking garages.

    1. Municipalities all over this country successfully provide more than enough central parking, for very reasonable rates, to their residents. This is just not something Princeton Administrators have been good at. Probably because ease for townsfolk & fairness have never been at the heart of their objective. Merchants & town life have suffered as a result.

  2. Its too bad about the library voucher. I have seen the voucher abused for sure, but wish there was a way to curtail abuse and still allow for the voucher. I know families on limited means who bring a carload of kids to the library for a couple hours every weekend as a free and good activity for the kids. It may not seem like much to some, but the fact that this now will cost the two hours of parking may discourage this for such families. I’ve heard of a similar issue in a town library in another state where the voucher abuse was significantly reduced when the library implemented two “controls” over the voucher, 1) the library patron had to scan their library card to obtain the voucher, so there was some sort of record of who/when the voucher was used (my only concern with this is that some people come in to visit the library from places like Canal Pointe which are outside of the free library card eligibility area – I’d still be in favor of them getting the voucher if they were actually using the library), and 2) the library staff person looked directly in the eyes of the voucher requester and said something like: “were you in the library using library resources and services during the majority of the time for which you are requesting the voucher?” before stamping the voucher (apparently, people are honest and “questionable” voucher requests were reduced by just this process of asking the person to declare).

    1. There is almost nowhere in Princeton that is more than 20 mins away from the public library by bicycle. Kids should not be dependent on driving to access our community resource, and adults should not be dependent on subsidized parking. We need to make our streets and roads safe for all users, so everybody can ride downtown safely. I took my daughter to the library last weekend, we went by bicycle. Not everybody feels comfortable doing that right now, but hopefully the new bike circulation plan, which is being developed this fall, will lead to proper, safe facilities.

      1. One family I know has both a two year old who enjoys the library and another child who is disabled who is not able to ride a bicycle. I have also known families from South Brunswick who come to our great library. There is also winter to consider. I personally strive for a car free life and think all efforts should be made to support car free living. But there are just some circumstances where families will be appropriately driving a car to the library, and its too bad that when families are legitimately using the library they have lost the free parking for that activity.

  3. We can always find an example or two on the fringe of reality to support our positions. An hour of free parking is VERY FAIR and people can pay the $2 or whatever it is for the chance to visit the library and park in the garage. Too many people are taking advantage unfairly – and librarians shouldn’t be in the parking validation business.

  4. Finally, a tiny ray of light pierces the darkness. Finally, everyone is treated fairly. Thank you, Ms. Crumiller & Council for giving residents a reasonable amount of time to do necessary errands. The line in the post office this week took over 20 minutes. It’s impossible to go to the post office, do banking, stop in small world for a refill, acknowledge neighbors with a friendly chat, & make it back to a parked car in under a half hour. One hour is sweet & appreciated.

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