Dozens of Wantagh commuters returned to their vehicles Wednesday night to face $135 fines after Hempstead officials realigned parking in a town lot to add more commuter spots.
Town officials issued tickets Wednesday to cars parked in spaces now designated for 90 minute parking.
Hempstead Town Board members approved a change last month to realign Wantagh Municipal Lot 5 at the Long Island Rail Road station and add seven more commuter spots. The short-term spots are designed to be used by non-commuters doing business in Wantagh.
The realignment now divides the lot into 60 commuter spots and 53 spots marked as having 90-minute limits, town officials said. The parking spaces were moved to group all commuter spots together.
Town workers installed new signs in the parking lot Dec. 14, but only started enforcing parking in the 90-minute spots this week, Hempstead spokesman Mike Deery said Thursday.
“Appropriate signage was added four weeks ago,” he said Thursday. “Enforcement only commenced yesterday, giving people four full weeks to adjust to the alteration.”
But residents said they were still caught off guard when they did not notice the signage was changed.
Karen Flynn, 55, of South Hempstead, said Thursday she commutes to Wantagh, where she works, and purchased a parking permit in the lot, where she has been parking in the same place since July.
She said she returned to her car Wednesday to find every car in her section ticketed for parking violations.
Flynn said spaces in the LIRR lot are already at a premium as construction underway near the railway has affected places to park.
She said she plans to fight the ticket, which she said includes one of the highest fines in New York. The fee is the standard parking fine issued by the town.
“Why do it now with less parking?” Flynn said. “They could have given a warning. That’s a lot of money. Now I have to be inconvenienced to go to court because I don’t think it’s fair the way they did it.”