In September, parking in Copiague lots to catch the Long Island Rail Road will come at a cost: $65 annually for Town of Babylon residents, and $200 for nonresidents.
The change comes after the town hired Old Bethpage-based consulting firm Level G Associates to study parking issues after years of complaints from Copiague residents about parking lots overflowing with commuters traveling from elsewhere in the town to use their free lots.
The town recently received permission from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to implement the paid parking plan. MTA officials declined to comment on the approved plan.
Drivers at the three other stations on the Babylon Branch in the Town of Babylon must pay, which offers an incentive for them to use the Copiague lots, town officials said.
Residents in the villages of Lindenhurst, Amityville and Babylon pay $65, $30 and $35 a year, respectively, to park in those station lots.
With the $65 town resident permit, “there’s now zero motivation for residents from around the town to go to Copiague other than Copiague residents,” town spokesman Kevin Bonner said.
In a few weeks, the town will send mailers and applications to residents, notifying them of the switch to paid permits, town attorney Joe Wilson said.
Signage will be added to the existing lots and new street parking regulations will go into effect, limiting some spots to two hours to prevent commuters from spilling into spots otherwise used by shoppers.
Amy Pfeiffer, the town's director of downtown revitalization, has wanted more parking turnover downtown, so adding the two-hour limit on Elm, Cedar and Pine streets, as well as a five-hour limit along a portion of Railroad Avenue, will help achieve that goal.
“We want fewer people to be parking as commuters on downtown streets,” she said.
The town will also add 35 muni-meter spots near the station, charging $3 for as long as 24 hours.
Commuters can apply for the 675 permitted spots designated for residents and nonresidents in the multiple MTA and town lots as early as Aug. 1, Wilson said.
The paid permits will be required beginning Sept. 3 — with a six-week grace period for warning notices — and will extend through 2020.
Copiague is undergoing a downtown revitalization and development boom, with multiple apartment complexes being built, as well as street and pedestrian improvements and facade upgrades for businesses.
“We’re not looking to have this fee cause any parking restrictions on people coming to downtown Copiague to shop, eat, et cetera,” Bonner said.
Parking permits will be required Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., leaving the spots open to the public on evenings and weekends.
Sharon Fattoruso, president of the Copiague Chamber of Commerce, said she supports the plan but anticipates that residents used to parking for free will be displeased.
“I think it will alleviate some of the problems,” she said. “I think that the town had to do something because people have been complaining for a long time.”