The future of Bay Shore’s parking meter program -- as well as plans to expand into neighboring hamlets -- is uncertain as Islip Town Board members remain divided on how to deal with complaints that the meters are spoiling decades of resurgence.
Dozens of residents and business owners pleaded with the Islip Town Board at a public meeting Tuesday to change or scrap the entire Bay Shore parking meter program that’s been more than four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the making.
In February 2014, the town board awarded a $750,000 contract to Florida-based Cale America Inc. to purchase meter machines. The first meters were installed at the Maple Avenue docks in summer 2015; at the LIRR station in January 2016; the Bay Shore Marina in June 2016; and on Bay Shore’s Main Street in November.
The most recent Bay Shore meters turned on earlier this month affect nearly 600 parking spaces in Town-owned lots behind businesses on Main Street.
For nearly two hours, speakers lined up to tell the five-member town board how the meters are affecting their bottom lines and causing confusion and interruptions for shoppers trying to enjoy restaurants and cafes or attend appointments.
Donna Periconi, president of the Greater Bay Shore Chamber of Commerce, called the meters “discriminatory taxation” because Bay Shore is the only hamlet within the Town of Islip where meters have been installed.
Islip officials recently said that parking meters are planned for the town-owned Ocean Avenue dock facility within the Bay Shore Marina District, and later in neighboring Islip hamlet’s downtown areas and LIRR stations in Islip, Great River, Oakdale and Sayville.
Money has already been secured for the machines needed for Islip’s LIRR lot, according to Islip Town Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr.
Last month, Council members Mary Kate Mullen, Steve Flotteron and Trish Bergin Weichbrodt voted to remove $400,000 worth of funding from a bond resolution for parking meters that would be installed in the planned areas.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Cochrane, who has spearheaded the town’s meter efforts over the past four years, said he will continue to tweak the Bay Shore program but that “it’s too early” to completely dismantle it.
He said he will work to get the needed votes to pass the bond resolution for the program’s expansion and believes that, in the long run, meters will benefit business districts. He blamed election season and that “many of those who are complaining are running for office this year.”
Cochrane said he doesn’t have a date for when the bond resolution will be introduced again.
Bergin Weichbrodt said after the meeting that she does not agree with installing meters in other areas and that the program in Bay Shore should be “significantly scaled back or completely removed.”
“The more we spoke to Bay Shore business owners, the more we realized that these meters were creating a problem,” she said. “This was a pilot program in Bay Shore. We came to the realization that perhaps going forward with this program throughout the whole town is not a good idea.”