The Huntington Town Board tried Tuesday to address the growing issue of a lack of available parking in one of Long Island’s busiest downtowns, but many who attended the public hearing said the new parking regulations don’t go far enough.
The five-member panel unanimously approved two resolutions that increased metered parking along New York Avenue and Main Street in Huntington village from 25-cents hourly to $1-an-hour, doubled metered parking rates to 50-cents hourly in some surrounding streets and increased the rate at East Northport train station parking lot. They also shifted the time period in which meters on those streets charge drivers to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. instead of the current 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Sundays.
While they additionally increased the metered parking limit from two hours to three, officials said that they hope the new rates will create more turnover and open up more opportunities for other drivers to park, while also decreasing the amount of time drivers spend searching for an available spot.
“We are living in an area where people want to be,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone told more than 100 local merchants and residents who were on hand for the afternoon vote.
Still, most residents and business owners said the measures won’t alleviate the problem. Many who spoke publicly said prospective customers regularly complain about parking, and some, according to one restaurant owner, cancel reservations because of frustration over searching for an open space.
Petrone said a town subcommittee is currently looking into the feasibility of building a parking structure nearby, which appears to have the backing of many community members who spoke before the board. The subcommittee’s recommendation isn’t expected for several months.
“More parking brings more business,” said Billii Roberti, a former book store owner in the village who closed down her business after only two years. Speaking outside the hearing, Roberti said other issues compounded the problem which led to her closing the store, but she noted, parking “certainly didn’t help.”
“All my customers complain,” said a man who identified himself as the owner of Scorpios, a Greek restaurant on New York Avenue.
“We need to work together to figure out the answer to this,” added Chris Mitchell, another business owner.
The resolutions adopted Tuesday were part of a recommendation from the Huntington Village Parking Study, which was released last summer and was commissioned by a consortium that included the town, the Town of Huntington Economic Development Corp., the Huntington Village Business Improvement District, the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and Paramount Theater.
A town spokesman said the new parking meter rates are expected to apply in a month to six weeks, once new centralized Muni Meter are installed to replace the old meters currently posted at each parking space. Violators are issued a warning for their first offense, but a second offense incurs a $25 fine with $50 fines for each thereafter. The municipal parking lots behind the shops will still be free, the spokesman said.