Brittney Barnett hurriedly parked her Hyundai Sonata on Maple Avenue in space No. 283 -- taking up nearly two spots -- in a quest to make it to a ferry en route to Fire Island to celebrate her high school graduation.
Not knowing the new Town of Islip parking meter rules, Barnett, 18, of Oakdale, said: "I have no idea what's going on. I just need to get on that boat!"
Barnett was one of many beachgoers befuddled on a recent Friday afternoon by the town's new parking meters -- part of a $750,000 plan by Islip officials to raise funds to repair deteriorating municipal parking lots.
The meters on Maple Avenue, which were turned on June 1, have generated nearly $3,000 in fees each weekend since their debut, town officials said.
Several people interviewed near the meters expressed dismay at the cost and frustration of dealing with what they said were malfunctioning machines.
The meters went up despite more than 2,000 signatures submitted to the town that asked that the meters not be installed. Islip Town Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr., who spearheaded the project, has dismissed naysayers and said the meters were a financial necessity.
A total of 48 meters are or will be installed at three locations, including at Maple Avenue in Bay Shore and Bay Shore's Long Island Rail Road station.
At the train station there will be 500 paid spots; there will be 700 metered spots at downtown areas along Main Street and in municipal lots on Main Street, officials have said.
Users enter the parking space number into the electronic meters to pay, with prices from 50 cents per hour during the week to $1 per hour on weekends and holidays and up to $40 for 72 hours.
"It's terrible. Half the time it doesn't work," Craig Attwood, 39, of Brightwaters and a chef at The Hideaway restaurant in Ocean Beach, said of the machines. "It's a hassle for those of us who work out there, especially the ones in the restaurant business, when we come back late and sometimes don't know when we'll be back. You should just be able to buy a summer pass."
The machines have a pay-by-smartphone option, enabling motorists to re-up their time remotely; that information is displayed on two signs at the beginning of each row of meters.
Others, like Ed Coleman, 65, applauded the fiscally stressed town -- which has an $11.3 million deficit -- for taking new revenue-inducing measures.
Coleman, an ex-resident of Bay Shore who lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut, called the meters and their prices "fair."
"I think it's smart for the town to do this," Coleman said, on his way to his second home in Fair Harbor. "The spaces are marked really well, it's a great revenue source for them, and it helps free up spaces. It's a win-win situation."
Barnett rushed back to stuff dollar bills into one of the machines, only to realize it accepts credit cards or coins -- no paper money. She shrugged and ran back toward the docks.
The ferry glided into the Great South Bay, with Barnett aboard.