The Town of Islip will soon begin leasing a 175-stall parking lot in the Bay Shore downtown area in hopes of alleviating congestion in the booming business district.
Motorists have been using the lot — located on the south side of Gibson Street, about 100 feet east of Maple Avenue — as free public parking, but a new resolution passed by the Islip Town Board includes a monthly payment of $1,033.75 to officially lease the property from Eleven Maple Avenue Associates, LLC.
“The Town approached the owners and suggested allowing the public to continue to use the lot in exchange for indemnifying the owner against liability, and paying a proportionate share of the taxes,” Islip Town spokeswoman Caroline Smith said in a statement.
A principal of Eleven Maple Avenue LLC did not respond to a request for comment.
A parking “shortage” due to the “revitalization and success of the surrounding downtown area” — including a number of new restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses that have opened in the past year — spurred town officials to approach the property owners to come up with an agreement, Smith said.
Summertime users filling up free parking spots to catch Fire Island ferries about a half-mile south on Maple Avenue have also contributed to the high demand for more parking spaces.
On a recent Friday afternoon, several motorists who parked in the lot complained of their struggles to find a place to park — oftentimes having to circle several lots before finding an empty spot.
Angel Ramos, 49, an artist from Brentwood, said he has been visiting his chiropractor three times a week for the past several weeks after a car accident. Being disabled, coupled with his recent injuries, make it difficult for him to walk long distances when he can’t find a legal spot to leave his car.
“As you can see, there’s not really any place to park,” said Ramos, who managed to snag one of the few handicap slots in the lot. “Even handicap spaces are full most of the time — and a lot of the times they’re taken by people who don’t even have handicap permits.”
The impending lease — expected to run on a month-to-month basis — is still being negotiated, Smith said. Because the public was already using the lot, the town intends to retroactively date the lease to Aug. 1, Smith said.
The current parking rules — which include a ban on overnight parking from 3 to 6 a.m. — will remain in effect, Smith said. No changes have been instituted as a result of the new lease. The spaces will add to the approximately 1,250 parking spots available to the public in 14 town-owned lots in the downtown Bay Shore area, Smith said.
A parking meter program launched in the hamlet at the beginning of summer 2015 at the Maple Avenue docks has since expanded to the Long Island Rail Road station in January and to the Bay Shore Marina earlier this summer.
Plans are in the works to bring parking meters to the spaces along Main Street as well as the public lots in the business district. About 60 percent of the existing spaces in the parking lots in the business district — not including those along Main Street — will continue to allow for free parking, Smith said.