Port Jefferson reviews parking meter hours

An array of shops lines Main Street in An array of shops lines Main Street in Port Jefferson. (Nov. 11, 2011) Photo Credit: Carl Corry

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Drivers who feed Port Jefferson parking meters will have to pump the quarters in until midnight, after the village board voted last month to extend the hours when the meter season starts on Friday.

But the board also promised to reconsider the action after some village business owners attended last week's board meeting to register their opposition.

"There's not really communication between the people who are making the choices, and the people who will be impacted by the choices," John Urbinati told the board.

Urbinati is a co-owner and chef at popular village restaurant Fifth Season, which validates parking for its customers at a cost of thousands of dollars every year, he said.

Tom Schafer, owner of Schafer's Restaurant and president of the local Business Improvement District, said the hours are well beyond any other municipality's that he could recall. "No one has ever said we're against paid parking," he said. "But just because we're open later doesn't mean we should be penalized."

The village's meters, which cost 25 cents per half-hour, previously ran from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily during the meter season of March 15 to Nov. 25. The two extra hours will net the village another $20,000, officials say, while noting that establishing new time limits was not intended to make money but to manage traffic in the congested downtown.

"The idea of managed parking is to benefit all," said Michael Mart, a member of the village parking committee, which made the proposal. Mart said downtown parking used to be chaotic before the meters were introduced.

Fellow committee member Dom Famularo added that the committee was not "anti-business" and that the members were "looking at intelligent options."

After hearing the criticism, the village board agreed to reconsider the new hours at its work session Monday and might vote then on whether to restore the previous time limits.

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