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Huntington studies building parking structure for downtown

Parking in downtown Huntington has become such a

Parking in downtown Huntington has become such a challenge that officials are pondering whether a garage is needed. Feb. 8, 2017 Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

A drive to build a parking structure in downtown Huntington has moved to the next level.

The town’s Economic Development Corporation voted to retain Old Bethpage-based Level G Associates to review and update previous Huntington studies of parking congestion in the downtown area. The company also is to complete a conceptual design of a parking garage and to assess its potential, sizing and economics.

The study will look at the feasibility of building a garage on a surface lot between New and Green streets south of Main Street and how to finance it.

“We need a solution, not a Band-Aid,” Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said last week. “After all these years looking at the parking issues in the village, I believe we need a parking structure. We want to encourage businesses, but we have to address the parking issue.”

A previous study commissioned in 2012 by a consortium composed of representatives from the town, including from the Economic Development Corporation, Huntington Village Business Improvement District Association, The Paramount Theater and chamber of commerce, and produced by Manhattan-based Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates Inc., looked at several options to address the chronic parking shortage in the area, including implementing a two-tiered metered parking structure and offering valet parking.

A parking structure was an option to be considered after other, less-costly measures were tried.

This latest study will build on the Nelson/Nygaard report. A crucial question to be answered is whether the revenue from fees to park in the garage will cover the financing costs, town officials said.

“But we need to look into all the avenues for funding,” Petrone said. “One is a parking district, financing, federal money we are not aware of, maybe assessing businesses a certain amount of dollars for parking spots — the study will help us identify that.” The creation of a parking district would tax residents, businesses or both, depending on how it is set up.

Huntington has long struggled with a lack of parking, especially on weekends, something Petrone attributes to the vibrant downtown full of shops, restaurants and the theater, which draw large numbers of visitors. The town has addressed the issue in several ways, he said, including parking meters, valet parking and squeezing additional spaces into municipal lots by reconfiguring them.

But problems persist.

“It’s come to the point where we need to get to solutions for parking in the village,” development corporation chairman Rob Ripp said. “We need to undertake the appropriate analysis to understand what kind of parking structures are feasible, how much parking do we need and where.”

The study is expected to take about three months and cost up to $10,000.

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