Finding a parking spot in town, arguably, is no picnic. This is especially true not only in the five local commuter lots within easy walking distance to the train station, but also on Main Street. And solving the parking problem so that residents and officials see eye-to-ey may prove just as difficult.
This was a subject of debate at Tuesday's Town of North Hempstead Board meeting, where residents and officials discussed newly proposed merchant and commuter parking lots on Port Washington Blvd. South Bayles Ave. and Haven Ave. While officials say the proposed parking lots would enhance quality of life by reducing the number of double-parked cars and easing congestion, many residents disagree.
Port Washington resident Laura Shabe says the congestion on Main Street and Port Washington Blvd. is already a disaster.
"I live right near these proposed parking lots and a lot of residents feel this will increase the already congested area," Shabe said.
Specifically, the Port Washington Parking District is considering purchasing 1070 Port Washington Blvd., which is owned by Shields Hardware. This property also encompasses vacant land on Main Street and Ohio Ave. If purchased, all three parcels of land would allow for 20 to 30 merchant parking spots. In addition, two other spots are under consideration, according to Councilman Fred Pollack. One is at 50 South Bayles Ave., "which we would just reconfigure an existing parking lot with 70 to 75 parking spots," Pollack said. The other is on Haven Ave. across from the train station, which would allow for 20 commuter parking spots, Pollack said.
A public hearing on the proposed parking lots is set for September 14, and the details about design, properties the town would purchase and bond will be addressed at that time, Pollack said. A mailing will also go out to residents in the upcoming weeks, he added.
Port Washington resident John Chadwell said he would like residents to have the opportunity discuss the matter further.
"I am worried about rodents and stray cats roaming around once the old Shields property is torn down," Chadwell said. "I live by Ohio Street and the residents and I need to discuss this with the Town Board."
Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman said that plans were not definite as of yet and that the Town Board is scheduling a public hearing on September 14 to clarify details.
"If we acquire the Shields property, we want to do some greening – plant some trees and bushes," Kaiman said. "However, we don't have a specific design right now for any of the possible properties."
Town of North Hempstead Deputy Town Attorney Andrew Hyman estimates the parking lot project would cost over $4.6 million, but the total costs are not all calculated yet.
"We will be saving millions of dollars by acquiring these small parcels," Kaiman said. "People can't find a place to park on Main Street and parking is critical for Main Street business survival. The law allows the Parking District to acquire property and the goal now is to set a public hearing."