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Complaints in Oyster Bay that parking committee not driving enough change

Commuters have long complained that they struggle to

Commuters have long complained that they struggle to find parking in Oyster Bay Town's congested commuter lots. At the H-9 parking field, 30 spaces for short-term parking will be converted to permit-only parking effective Sept. 30. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Oyster Bay officials created a parking committee to address the lack of enough spots for commuters, but some say the committee hasn’t been meeting, leading to complaints among members and the town board.

Most recently, Councilman Thomas Hand voted against converting 30 short-term parking spaces in Hicksville into permit parking, a decision he said was motivated by wanting to see the town parking committee involved.

It was the second time this year a parking measure was opposed because the parking committee hadn’t been consulted.

When the town increased its parking permit fee from $20 to $100 in 2018, residents complained that they would pay more while still struggling to find parking at the town’s congested commuter lots. Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino created a parking committee — co-chaired with Councilman Anthony Macagnone — to seek solutions to the parking problem. The town has added spots and plans to add more, but officials have not announced an overall plan.

“I want to make sure the parking committee is still involved,” committee member Lisa Reinhardt told the town board before the Hicksville vote at the Sept. 17 meeting. Reinhardt, of Hicksville, is one of three resident members of the committee and said in an interview that they haven’t met in more than a year.

Reinhardt said that in the spring of 2018 the committee, which also includes town officials, planned to walk all the lots to look for spaces. The committee only visited the Syosset and Bethpage lots, she said.

Reinhardt said she was assured this past spring by town officials that the parking work was getting done.

“I said 'Wait a minute. That’s great, but how is it getting done? How has the committee not been notified' because I hadn’t heard anything in months,” she said.

Town spokesman Brian Nevin wrote in an email that the committee visited several sites.

“The Commuter Parking Committee was formed to review commuter lots and made five site-visits to do just that,” the email stated. “The town has since moved forward with creating additional parking opportunities.”

The town and the MTA have been in discussions about a new garage, but nothing has been agreed to.

Town officials have taken a piecemeal approach to parking: In 2017 the board approved converting 54 metered parking spots at the Massapequa commuter lot to permit only; in Bethpage the town gained 21 spots this year as part of a community benefits agreement between Steel Equities and Nassau County in which the company bought, paved and then donated a parcel to the town; the town is restriping the commuter lot in Syosset to fit more cars; and the town is building a new lot in Locust Valley to add 36 to 39 spots.

This year the town borrowed $420,000 to invest in its non-garage parking spaces. Town officials did not respond to requests for information about how the money has been or will be spent.

PERMITS = REVENUE

Oyster Bay has not provided a breakdown or total number of parking spots at its lots. In 2018, Newsday reported the town had 6,891 parking spots that require permits, which are issued for two years. People buying them in odd years pay a pro-rated fee.

2018: $1.8 million

2017: $188,594

2016: $706,206

2015: $172,168

2014: $650,740

Source: Oyster Bay Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports

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