To stop out-of-town commuters from using Copiague’s free Long Island Rail Road parking lots, the Town of Babylon is asking for Metropolitan Transportation Authority approval to charge for some spots.
The town has developed a parking management plan, hoping to increase regulations sometime this year, stopping nonresidents from placing “an undue burden on the local parking supply,” according to an announcement from the town.
Copiague is the only stop on the Babylon line in the Town of Babylon that has entirely free parking. It issued free resident-only parking passes in May 2017 but kept all the spaces free of charge, unlike Amityville, Babylon and Lindenhurst stations, which have paid resident permit parking, paid nonresident permit parking, metered parking and some free parking.
The Copiague stickers for town residents apply to parking in the lot immediately north of the MTA commuter parking lot, at Marconi Boulevard and Colombo Avenue, and an adjacent lot at Marconi Boulevard and Vespucci Avenue.
There are several MTA parking lots surrounding the train station, said Amy Pfeiffer, director of downtown revitalization for the town. Both the MTA lots and the town lots are part of the regulation plan submitted to the MTA.
If approved, the MTA lots would have meters, and some spaces in the two town lots would require paid parking permits.
The parking management plan may also include a downtown parking component.
The town hired Old Bethpage-based consulting firm Level G Associates to help create a parking plan for the Copiague train station and downtown area, Pfeiffer said, to determine whether they could change some of the hours for curbside parking to get more turnover in the downtown area.
“We want fewer people to be parking as commuters on downtown streets,” she said. “We also wanted to see if we could start charging for parking.”
Both town public safety officers and parking enforcement officers from the town attorney’s office can issue parking tickets, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said. But the town should have some variety in its commuter lots, he said.
“Make it more in line with every other stop on the South Shore line,” he said.
Pfeiffer said if the town implements a paid resident-only parking permit for Copiague, pricing would be similar to nearby stations, which have annual rates from $30 to $65 for residents and from $150 to $700 for nonresidents.
“It’s not something that would ever be terribly expensive,” she said. “I don’t see it being controversial.”
In 2015, the MTA gave the Town of Islip approval to install meters in some lots at its Bay Shore station and offer paid parking permits for residents and nonresidents.
While the Town of Babylon awaits a response to its request, officials won’t issue new free 2019 parking permits for residents, Bonner said. Instead, 2018 permits will stay in effect until further notice.
MTA spokesman Chris McKniff said, “We continuously work with partners in government, and the private sector, on smarter parking solutions at all stations throughout the system and are currently reviewing the request from the Town of Babylon for the parking lots associated with the Copiague LIRR station."
Annual LIRR parking rates at other stops in Town of Babylon
Lindenhurst — Residents: $65 Nonresidents: $225, chosen by lottery
Amityville — Residents: $30 Nonresidents: $150
Babylon — Residents: $35 Nonresidents: $700