Competition eyes new concepts for parking on LI

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Four architectural firms are collaborating with four Long Island communities -- Patchogue, Rockville Centre, Ronkonkoma and Westbury -- in a competition to develop "new concepts" in parking designs that organizers hope will spark interest across the Island.

The results of the "ParkingPLUS Design Challenge" will be unveiled in January, said Danielle Hundt, communications coordinator for the Rauch Foundation, which publishes the Long Island Index and launched the competition. The Index issues reports about the region.

Hundt pointed to an earlier Index report that identified 4,000 acres of surface parking in or near downtowns across the Island.

"We thought about how to redevelop those lots to better utilize those spaces, like through structure parking," Hundt said in a presentation to the Long Island Regional Planning Council at its meeting Tuesday at Molloy College's satellite campus in Farmingdale.

"A big focus is what you can get out of creating a parking structure other than just parking," she said. "Free up that space. What can you put there? A restaurant or green space."

"I think the 'plus' is going to be the cool part of it," she said.

For the competition, the foundation sought out communities that represent a geographic mix between Nassau and Suffolk counties, with areas that are "ripe for transit-oriented development" and represent different parking challenges.

Patchogue's design challenge is focused on its downtown, and the other three involve parking areas at Long Island Rail Road stations, she said. There is no guarantee any of the designs will be built, Hundt said.

Each of the communities is volunteering staff time and information in the collaboration with the architectural firms. The firms, selected by Rauch, are: dub studios, which has offices in New York City and Los Angeles, working in Patchogue; LTL Architects of Manhattan, working in Westbury; Roger Sherman Architecture and Urban Design of Los Angeles, working in Ronkonkoma; and Utile Inc. of Boston, working in Rockville Centre.

Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro, in an email, confirmed his village's participation but added he could not comment further. Officials from the other areas could not be reached Tuesday.

In other business, the planning council heard a presentation from Karma411 chief executive and founder John Murcott on how the council's interactive website LI2035.org is being promoted on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with plans to add more bloggers. He said the site "has been steady," adding 100 new, unique users per month.

John Cameron, the council's chairman, said the website should refresh content more frequently to try to generate more users. Cara Longworth, the council's executive director, suggested edgier content to boost commenters.

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