Patchogue has sought-after artists' lofts, trendy restaurants and a packed theater, but right now Lindenhurst officials are more interested in a less-glamorous aspect of the village revitalization: parking.
Lindenhurst is hoping to bring new life to its downtown and possibly mirror the success of the makeover that has occurred in Patchogue. Earlier this month, the village's newly formed economic development committee invited a parking consultant who worked with Patchogue officials to offer an assessment of Lindenhurst's parking.
Residents and business owners have complained for years that there's limited parking downtown. In addition to the metered spots along South Wellwood Avenue, there are six municipal lots of varying sizes and regulations, said village Clerk-Treasurer Shawn Cullinane, who chairs the committee. Another issue: employees who hog spots in front of stores.
"It's a constant problem we're battling," Cullinane said.
Parking consultant Gerard Giosa of Level G Associates LLC in Old Bethpage said he has been doing parking studies for more than 30 years. He said that at 25 cents for two hours, Lindenhurst's parking rates are probably the lowest on Long Island. By comparison, Patchogue upped its parking fees to $1 per hour, he said, after officials became "so sick of not having spaces along Main Street."
Raising parking fees has multiple benefits, Giosa said. "A very low parking rate almost invites employees to go out and feed the meter," he said. "This is why the spaces along Wellwood always seem full."
At $1 an hour, he said, it's cost-prohibitive for an employee to feed the meter all day.
"I can't tell you the difficulty in raising it from a dime a few years ago," Cullinane told Giosa. Last year, the village received about $50,000 in parking revenue, he said.
The extra revenue also can be cycled back into the parking system by using the money to purchase properties for additional lots or parking structures, Giosa said. "I've generally found that for every $1 you spend on structured parking, you get $6 to $8 back," he said.
In Patchogue, he noted, parking is a mix of free and metered, using a "pay by space" system where spots are numbered. This method allows people to extend their parking time by using a smartphone app, Giosa said.
Residents have complained about the difficulty in backing out of the angled parking spaces on Wellwood Avenue, but Giosa said changing those to parallel spots would result in a loss of 47 spaces. Giosa suggested instead changing the degree of the angle.
Giosa said that the village is "on the right track" toward revitalization, noting the interest of Tritec Real Estate of East Setauket.
Cullinane said Tritec is proposing building about 200 rental units on 7 acres now occupied by several businesses on Hoffman Avenue across from the Long Island Rail Road station.
Tritec co-owner Bob Coughlan said he could not comment on its plans and that the company -- which constructed a residential, retail and office complex in Patchogue -- is still performing an "analysis of the project."
He said it would be brought to the public before the end of the year.