Islip officials are pushing to get the first phase of parking meters installed in parts of Bay Shore by the beginning of summer -- a year after the program was initially set to begin -- despite more than 2,000 signatures submitted to the town urging its demise.
The town board, absent a supervisor with Tom Croci on leave serving in the Navy, awarded a $750,000 contract in February 2014 to Florida-based Cale America Inc. to purchase the machines and install them. Supervisor Angie Carpenter, who was sworn in last month, said she supports the project.
Under the plan, a total of 48 meters will be installed at three sites: 500 parking spaces at the hamlet's LIRR station, 250 spaces at the Maple Avenue docks and 700 spaces downtown. Those include Main Street between Fifth Avenue and Gibson Street and the municipal lots to the north and south of businesses along that stretch.
About 60 percent of spaces in downtown municipal lots will remain free, town officials said.
The final phase of the project was to be completed by this past January, but was delayed by the town failing to file timely requests for needed approvals from various state agencies.
Phase one will now include the Maple Avenue docks and LIRR parking lot, jointly owned by the town and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which earlier this month approved the meters to be put there, town officials said.
Andrew Siben, whose law firm Siben & Siben has been on Main Street since 1960, where another phase of meters is proposed, collected the petitions and said the town is "making a very serious mistake."
"People are expressing outrage," Siben said of the petitioners. "The vast amount of people we talked to in town are vehemently opposed to these parking meters. We feel it'll be bad for business on a whole . . . it'll discourage people from coming to our community, from going to our businesses."
Town Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr., the leader of the parking-meter effort, dismissed the petitions -- saying many signers come from areas outside of Bay Shore -- and said the anticipated revenue collected from the meters is needed to help repair and upkeep deteriorating town-owned parking lots. The town faces an $11.3 million deficit and a renovation and pricey cleanup of illegally dumped contaminated material at Roberto Clemente Park that could cost upward of $6 million.
"There were a lot of hard decisions with this. It wasn't a knee-jerk reaction," Cochrane said in an interview. "This is going on four years of planning. We're trying to organize our assets and we have to manage them. We're trying to take this town to the next quarter century. I'm going to get beat up for this, but I'm old enough to take some beating."
The parking meters, which are now in production, include smartphone technology that would allow users to add more time to their meters from personal devices and eliminate the need to put a paper receipt on the dashboard. Town public safety officers will enforce the parking-meter rules with hand-held devices to help them work in the field, the town said.
Fees for parking -- including previously discussed parking passes for town resident commuters and downtown employees -- as well as violations have not yet been set.
Siben said his fears extend beyond personal business woes for those on Main Street to the town's own coffers.
"To pay back $750,000 is going to take years, if not decades, to repay," Siben said. "It's just not a prudent decision. We're going to continue to fight this."