A Town of North Hempstead ordinance adopted this week will turn a busy stretch of Port Washington's lower Main Street into a no-stopping zone - and the parking spaces that line both sides of the street will be eliminated.
Local business owners fear the change will drive customers away.
The ordinance calls for the removal of metered parallel parking spots to make room for a turning lane from Main Street onto Shore Road. The intersection is one of the worst in the town, Councilman Fred Pollack said.
But Harry DeFeo, who owns Harbor Deli and attended the meeting, said customers will bypass his Main Street shop if there's no parking in front.
The town board passed the measure Tuesday night, 5 to 0, after several hours of heated debate. Councilman Thomas Dwyer was absent and Councilman Angelo Ferrara abstained, saying he wants more time to look into limiting the no stopping zone to 4 to 7 p.m. and keeping the parking spaces the rest of the day.
Property on the corner of Main and Jackson streets, which the town purchased for $1 million in 2007, will be turned into a parking lot. DeFeo and other business owners said they are concerned the lot won't be a solution, in part because entering and exiting the parking lot will be difficult.
Delis, DeFeo explained, depend on convenience, and customers expect to access them quickly and easily. "This is not a place where you come to sit for an hour, so you drive around for an hour finding parking," DeFeo, 52, said.
Business was brisk on Tuesday afternoon. Joseph Sala, who owns a nearby insurance company, stopped to read a giant sign about the proposed ordinance on the deli's front door before ordering a sandwich to go.
"If there wasn't parking on the street, I wouldn't have come in," Sala, 55, said. "It's a shame. It's hard enough for small businesses to make it anymore."
Attorney Michael Rosen, who represents the deli, said the ordinance would be the "death knell" of the area: "You don't want to turn it into a Route 110 speedway."
Anthony Testa, property manager of a building across the street where four storefronts sit vacant, said potential business owners will be reluctant to lease space knowing there won't be parking in front.
"Their first order of business is how quickly patrons can get into the building," he said.
Supervisor Jon Kaiman said the town will monitor the impact of the change and whether it becomes necessary to restore the street parking and restrict the hours the no-stopping zone is in effect.