Bay Shore is a step closer to implementing parking meters in parts of its downtown area and Long Island Rail Road lots, after the Islip town council unanimously awarded a $750,000 contract to a Florida-based parking management firm last week.
The town chose Cale America Inc. over two New Jersey companies because it offered the "best product," including a parking system that would eliminate the need for motorists to place a receipt in the windshield, Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr. said.
Although the town board has already approved the contract before the first public hearing on March 4 at 2 p.m., Cochrane said the contract will not be finalized or signed until after public input has been had. The town's traffic safety code will have to be amended at the hearing for the proposal to continue.
Bay Shore hasn't had parking meters since the 1960s. The current proposal sets parking fees at 25 cents per 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Main Street and again from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. in local parking fields, while the LIRR lots will be metered 24 hours, Cochrane said.
There are many parking woes plaguing Bay Shore, Cochrane said, such as overnight parking restrictions in downtown lots that often lead to restaurant and bar workers getting ticketed at the end of their 4 a.m. shifts. In the summertime, lots get filled with Fire Island-goers who park cars in free spots for a week, Cochrane said.
The current plan includes bilingual, solar-powered touch pad meters being introduced in three phases, the first to be completed on Main Street and downtown parking fields by Memorial Day weekend.
If the project goes through, about 38 percent of downtown Bay Shore will have parking meters and the rest will stay free.
The town has been struggling to pay for parking upkeep, Cochrane said. "There are residents who are against it that have a right to voice their opinion, of course," he said. "But we mow it, we pave it and we don't have enough money to do it anymore."