Smithtown officials have approved the $280,000 purchase of two Kings Park lots for conversion into municipal parking lots, in what one business leader said was the first such expansion in decades.
“It demonstrates a fundamental shift in the way the Town of Smithtown has treated municipal parking,” Kings Park Chamber of Commerce president Tony Tanzi said of the expansion, which will add spaces for about 40 vehicles in lots behind Park Bake Shop on Pulaski Road. The combined size of the lots is less than a third of an acre.
Area business owners say a shortage of convenient parking has hindered their growth, and a planning consultant hired by the town said last year that adding spaces near the hamlet’s “Restaurant Row” near Main Street and Old Dock Road could grow commerce in the area.
Much of the hamlet’s off-street parking is in areas that shoppers may not necessarily find convenient, such as the fire department and train station lots, Tanzi said. The new spaces could free on-street spaces for short-term parking and make it easier to attract visitors to the downtown, he said.
“Every little bit we add makes it so another pocket of downtown can become successful,” he said. “It’s going to have a compound effect.”
With procedural legislation for area sewers promised by New York State stalled in Albany, local business leaders have taken smaller steps to revitalize a business district that had an 18 percent vacancy rate earlier this year.
Landlords have done street cleanup and beautification, and a July block party, Monday on Main, closed Route 25A to vehicle traffic for a night of music and outdoor dining, Tanzi said.
Matthew and Marguerite Lupoli are the lot sellers, according to records. “This is going to be a big help,” Town Supervisor Edward Wehrheim said at an Aug. 14 town council work session.
Suffolk County will fund the purchase and may fund construction of the parking lots as well, Wehrheim said.