Town of Oyster Bay officials are abandoning a plan to set aside 852 spaces at four Long Island Rail Road lots for $100-a-month “premium parking,” after receiving complaints from numerous residents.
The town board last week unanimously set a Jan. 10 public hearing for the proposal, which would have given residents who bought the premium permit guaranteed parking near the entrances of the Bethpage, Hicksville, Massapequa and Syosset LIRR stations. The four town-owned lots were chosen because they typically fill up on weekday mornings, leaving frustrated commuters with no place to park.
By late Tuesday afternoon, after nearly 300 residents weighed in on the plan via phone calls, emails and a comments page on the town website, board members had scratched the proposal.
Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said the “overwhelming majority” of the comments were negative.
“It’s not that this could never work,” she said. “But until we have adequate spaces for each and every commuter, we shouldn’t be taking away spaces from people.”
Some opponents said the plan unfairly benefited wealthier residents, a concern Alesia said she shared.
Councilman Joseph Pinto said many complaints he heard were from residents who take early trains.
“They feel the spots that would have been set aside for preferred parking would have been the spots they normally would have access to,” he said.
About 12 percent of the combined spaces in the four lots would have been for premium parking.
The 2017 budget of the financially struggling town anticipates $750,000 from premium parking.
Alesia said one way to make up for the revenue shortfall in the long term could be to raise regular parking rates at town-owned LIRR lots. Town residents now pay $20 for a 2-year permit, an amount that hasn’t changed since 1999.
“Even in the negative feedback we received, our own residents are making that suggestion,” town spokeswoman Marta Kane said.
Alesia said new permits won’t be issued until 2018, so more immediate revenue-generating possibilities include increasing public-private partnerships and charging for-profit sports leagues for using town-owned fields.
Alesia said the town is studying ways to reduce the LIRR parking crunch. A June decision to free up 83 underutilized spaces in Hicksville that had 2-to-4-hour time limits could be repeated elsewhere, as long as local businesses that need short-term parking aren’t hurt, she said.