Bay Shore residents and community groups gathered at Islip Town Hall Tuesday afternoon to protest a parking meter program that critics have said is crippling local businesses.
“Bay Shore has been treated unfairly by the members of this Town Board, for we are the only hamlet in the Town of Islip that has meters,” said Donna deLuca Periconi, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore. “Their promises that the revenues from the meter program would be reinvested into Bay Shore have also been broken . . . the meters are a discriminatory tax and only Bay Shore is paying it.”
Islip officials have responded to complaints by including more free parking in some areas, including on weekdays before 6 p.m. in town-owned lots behind Main Street.
In a statement, Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said the “managed parking program” was needed as the popularity of the community grew.
“The town has worked with the community since the program’s infancy to ensure that this parking management program maximized the ease of available parking in our downtowns, railroad stations and major popular areas, while at the same time, eliminating the abuse of those who park beyond the allotted times,” Carpenter wrote. “Overall, the vast majority of parking in downtown Bay Shore is still free.”
While the parking meters were not on the town board’s agenda Tuesday, the topic dominated the discussion during the public comment period. After the meeting, town board member Trish Bergin, who is up for re-election, issued a statement calling the meters a “failure.”
“Sometimes well-intended actions by elected officials fall flat,” she said, adding that she wanted the board to “join me in voting to rip these meters out.”
Protesters said that community residents and businesses are still seeing negative effects from the implementation of a meter district, and that they will demand “immediate action to correct this unfair and damaging program, including a full accounting of the cost and revenue associated with the program.”
Jason Fenley, a Bay Shore attorney who is running for Islip Town Council, said he relocated his law practice to the edge of town because his clients were complaining about the meters and he feared losing business.
“Based on the meters I evaluated whether I wanted to stay in Bay Shore, and ultimately I didn’t,” he said.
The parking meter program started at the Maple Avenue docks near the Fire Island ferries two summers ago. It expanded to the hamlet’s Long Island Rail Road parking lot in January 2016, to the Bay Shore Marina last June and to Main Street in November. The lots behind Main Street were metered in May. Rates range from 25 cents for 30 minutes in town lots to 75 cents an hour for metered street parking on and near Main Street.
Town officials have said the meters will expand to other shopping districts in Islip.