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Bay Shore business group petitions to eliminate parking meters

Parking meters along Bay Shore's Main Street, pictured

Parking meters along Bay Shore's Main Street, pictured on May 31, are a point of contention between the town and the Chamber of Commerce, which has begun to petition for the removal of the meters. Credit: Johnny Milano

Bay Shore’s Chamber of Commerce is doubling down on its fight against the town by circulating a petition seeking to shut down the controversial parking meter program.

The chamber, which has filed a lawsuit against Islip, launched a signature-gathering campaign at its meeting on Tuesday. The petition claims Bay Shore is Islip’s “cash cow” and lists multiple grievances with the meter program, including Bay Shore being the lone hamlet in Islip with meters and that some employees are forced to pay for parking. The petition also targets board members who are up for election in November.

“The injustice is overwhelming,” said Donna Periconi, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore. “We would have to endure four more years of the meters because they’re there.”

She was referencing the re-election campaigns of Supervisor Angie Carpenter and board members John Cochrane and Mary Kate Mullen.

The Islip board approved the meter program in 2014. Meters were installed throughout the hamlet, including downtown, at the marina and the Long Island Rail Road station.

About 89 percent of the $718,000 generated from meters in 2018 paid for $379,000 in infrastructure upgrades around Bay Shore and covered $257,000 in salary and benefits for three employees, Islip Comptroller Joseph Ludwig said.

Before the meter program,  cars would sit at spaces for days at a time, which impeded flow of traffic and affected businesses, Ludwig said. He added that 60 percent of parking spaces in town-owned lots in Bay Shore are meter-free.

The chamber also wants meter revenue to go directly to the hamlet and not into Islip’s general fund.

The group filed a lawsuit against Islip in 2017 trying to shut down the program, accusing the town board of failing to follow state law to direct meter revenue into a special improvement district.

Jason Fenley, the chamber’s attorney in the lawsuit, said the petition is meant to send a message to the town board.

“It shows the town board the chamber sued you, and the reason we sued you is because of all the people who are against it. Those are your constituents,” he said.

Thomas Owens, commissioner of the town’s Department of Public Works, said the meter program stemmed from business owners looking for a solution to employees and ferry customers controlling parking spaces along Main Street and other places.

“The revenue generated from the parking management program has enabled the Town to improve the quality of life for all in the hamlet," he said in a statement. "Already completed were improved drainage, traffic calming measures, sidewalks, decorative street lighting, paving and the creation of bike lanes along the Maple Ave. corridor.”

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