Councilman Fred Pollack recently sent a letter to local business owners stating that independent traffic consultants and the Town of North Hempstead's Planning Department confirmed that there is not enough road width on Main Street for three lanes of traffic and one lane of parking.
As a solution, the Jan. 28 letter suggested that nine parking spaces on Main Street will be removed once a parking lot at Jackson Street is complete. The town's plan would include the removal of five spaces on the north side of Main Street, west of Shore Road, and four spaces on the south side of Main Street, east of Jackson Street. They would also include the creation of a left-hand turn lane from Main Street onto Shore Road.
"The parking lot we are building will more than replace the on-street parking we are removing in order to create a turning lane," Pollack said. "This project really benefits everyone."
While this plan to remove parking spaces on lower Main Street could potentially alleviate traffic, local store owners said it will ultimately end up hurting their businesses.
"It's not going to be good for my business," said Harry DeFeo, owner of Harbor Delicatessen at 304 Main Street. "Parking in front of my store is all about convenience." DeFeo explained that the town's plan would remove spots directly in front of his store and added that the town has made this an ongoing issue for over three years.
The Town of North Hempstead will be holding a public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall to discuss the lower Main Street parking/traffic plan.
In response to the public hearing, DeFeo developed a petition against the town's new proposal, which close to 700 people have signed.
"I think it's terrible that they're taking away parking in front of Harbor Deli," said Port Washington resident Tom McNamara, who signed the petition. "I'm a regular customer there. If they take away spots on both sides of the street, it's going to be hard to remain a customer."
David James, owner of the Rigging Locker at 451 Main Street, added, "It's going to be very difficult to park in this area, and I come here three times a day. ... That parking lot is going to be easy to get into if you're heading east, but impossible if you're heading west."
The parking lot which will be built at Main and Jackson streets would include 14 spaces, five more than what the town is planning to remove. Pollack said these new spaces will be metered and have the same hours of operation as many other parking lots in Port Washington.
"The flow of traffic will be improved," Pollack explained, "businesses and their customers will have more metered spots than presently exist, and families on nearby residential streets will have fewer cars racing by trying to avoid the congested intersection."
Some local business owners adamantly disagree with Pollack's plan. "There's plenty of parking spaces for people to park instead of having a parking lot here," said Florence Leniston, owner of Bubba Brown's Treasures at 302 Main Street. "This proposal will affect businesses very badly."
She added that the current parking lot on Shore Road is hardly used during the day and that another parking lot will only cause more problems. "If there will be a new parking lot, there will need to be another traffic light to control vehicles entering and exiting the lot," she said. "The construction of the parking lot will slow down traffic even more. It's only going to get worse."
DeFeo said he has come up with another way alleviate the traffic situation. "Changing the timing of the light would be helpful to Port Washington residents and won't hurt the business owners," DeFeo said. "The parking on lower Main Street greatly impacts my business. We have to do something about this."