Editorial: Parking meter foolishness in Yonkers

Parking meters were recently removed from street parking Parking meters were recently removed from street parking spaces, as seen Tuesday, at Westchester's Ridge Hill in Yonkers. (Jan. 15, 2013) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

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If you were among any number of shoppers who paid to park on the roads of Ridge Hill Shopping Center in Yonkers, you got taken.

The legality of 117 meters lining the private roads of the new $842-million upscale mall was in question. So anybody who got a ticket for not feeding the meter may rightly want a refund.

While the developer maintains they were legitimate and part of the plans all along, the city disagreed and demanded that the meters be removed. The city says the Yonkers Parking Authority is the only agency that can operate meters in the city.

At Ridge Hill, which opened in 2011, the meters cost 25 cents for every 10 minutes. That fee is separate from developer Forest City Ratner's garage at the mall, where parking cost about $3 for six hours, but in some cases was free if a ticket was validated by a retailer.

The back-and-forth between the city and developer over the meters goes back to December 2011, when the City Council first asked the developer to take them down.

Last week, the two sides finally reached an agreement. In that announcement, the mayor said the meters will go away and a new traffic configuration will add more parking for disabled motorists and allow "for a more shopper-friendly environment."

That's all good for shoppers and may add to the place's appeal. But you've got to wonder how something as silly as this could happen with one of Yonkers most-prized recent developments. Was it an oversight? Incompetence? Hubris? Why did it take so long to sort out the details?

Even though Ridge Hill has said it won't reimburse anyone who has used the meters or paid fines from tickets, it ought to consider some sort of conciliation -- to show goodwill on the shopping center's part and to possibly stave off any backlash from disgruntled shoppers.

It's hard to know for sure why this issue dragged on, especially after hearing the mayor and developer tout the new deal for free parking. For sure, neither side wants bad publicity; the two already had their share before its completion, including a corruption trial involving city councilwoman.

And you've got to wonder how any of this parking snafu could be good for business.

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