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Oyster Bay Town proposes ‘premium parking’ for LIRR commuters

Vehicles fill the lot at the Hicksville LIRR

Vehicles fill the lot at the Hicksville LIRR station on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. Credit: Howard Schnapp

If you’re a Long Island Rail Road commuter frustrated at finding every parking spot taken when you arrive at one of four LIRR lots in the Town of Oyster Bay, relief may be coming — but it will cost you.

Town officials are proposing to charge $100 a month for a guaranteed space near the station entrances. The “premium parking” would be for 852 spaces at the Bethpage, Hicksville, Massapequa and Syosset lots — about 12 percent of all the spaces at the four lots, which were chosen because they typically are full on weekday mornings.

Richard Betz, commissioner of public works, said he’s unaware of any other municipality on Long Island that charges a higher price for guaranteed spots.

Officials also are discussing whether to raise rates for all parking patrons at town-owned lots. The current rate, $20 for a two-year pass, has been the same since 1999, town spokeswoman Marta Kane said. Residents of incorporated villages pay $80 for two years in those lots.

Parking pass revenue does not cover the town’s cost to pave, stripe, plow and provide other maintenance for the lots, said John Bishop, acting highway commissioner for the town. Property tax revenue must be used to help make up the difference, Betz said.

Discussion of premium parking came after repeated complaints from commuters that they couldn’t find places to park, Bishop said.

“They will not get a space and they will have to drive to another station and another station and another station,” he said.

Some arrive at their local stations long before they need to, to avoid missing out on a spot, he said. Others complain about tickets for parking outside designated spots.

If all 852 spots are sold at premium prices, the town would gain nearly a million dollars in extra annual revenue, Bishop said.

The money would be welcome to the financially struggling town, which has a junk-status credit rating from Standard & Poor’s. But Bishop said the impetus for creating the premium spaces was to respond to complaints of full parking lots, not to raise revenue.

Signs will go up at the four lots by early January directing commuters to a website that would include information on the plan and a downloadable application. Public response to the proposal will help determine whether the town changes the number of spaces or institutes a lottery for the spots, Betz said. The spots would — like regular spaces — be only for town residents.

The proposal includes fines of $100 for a first offense to $500 for a third offense for parking in a premium space without a permit.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 10 at Town Hall East, 54 Audrey Ave. in Oyster Bay hamlet.

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