Residents in the Town of Islip spoke up at a public hearing this week, calling the town's plan for parking meters in Bay Shore a "death knell" to the commercial progress the hamlet has made over the past two decades.
Town officials have said the meters -- which would be installed in other areas of Islip in the coming years -- is imperative to the upkeep and maintenance of parking lots, which the town says it cannot afford. The town's deficit was last calculated at $11.3 million at the end of 2013, while townwide taxes were hiked 28 percent in 2012.
Alan Sobel, an East Islip resident and Bay Shore business owner, said the plan will simply make history repeat itself.
"I've been around for the last round of parking meters in Bay Shore and they didn't work then," Sobel said of the parking meters that were last seen in the 1960s. "All they did was drive business out of Bay Shore."
After listening to three dissenters, the Town Board on Tuesday unanimously voted 3-0 to approve a traffic code amendment that would allow the meter machines to be installed in Bay Shore. Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci is serving overseas in the Navy and Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt was absent.
The project would put parking meters on Main Street between Park and Homan Avenues, and in municipal lots on Mechanicsville Road and Gibson Avenue by Memorial Day. Meters would also be put in Long Island Rail Road parking fields in Bay Shore by mid-September, while the Maple Avenue Dock would be outfitted by January.
Sixty percent of parking spaces in Bay Shore would remain free. The town is looking to issue flat-fee parking sticker permits -- like the ones already available for Long Island MacArthur Airport -- for commuters and residents, while hourly parking will be available for others.
More town employees -- including park rangers and public safety officers -- will also have to be hired to enforce the parking meter rules, according to Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr. It has not yet been determined how many or how much that would cost.
The town will have to bond the $750,000 contracted to Cale America Inc., a Florida-based parking management firm, to install the meters, which will take five years to pay back, Cochrane said.
Andrew Siben, of the Siben & Siben law firm on Main Street, which employs more than 100 people, asked the town board to "think long and hard" while it is making the rules for the meters.
"Parking meters could ultimately result in being a disaster," Siben said.