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Riverhead committee suggests stepped-up enforcement among options to improve traffic

The town's Parking District Committee has recommended four

The town's Parking District Committee has recommended four major steps to improve town parking in Riverhead. Photo Credit: James Carbone

A preliminary streamlined parking plan for Riverhead could pave the way for a series of improvement strategies, especially for downtown, officials said.

Members of the town’s Parking District Committee presented preliminary recommendations to the town board at its June 6 work session. The plan — which took parking information from previous studies such as the 2016 Brownfield Opportunity Area study — has recommended four major steps to improve town parking:

  • Prioritizing spaces for customers and visitors in centrally located facilities such as town-owned parking lots 
  • Updating enforcement efforts to better monitor and manage parking demand
  • Establishing regulations for incoming residential development such as buildings with studio and/or 1-bedroom units, or multifamily residential buildings to prepare for increased residential parking demand
  • Enhancing alternative transportation amenities including pedestrian/bicycle facilities — such as along McDermott Avenue — and parking connections to reduce parking demand

Dawn Thomas, community project supervisor for Riverhead’s Community Development Agency, said Friday that the plan’s major objective is determining how to best use the available parking in Riverhead, while using multiple strategies to address parking issues. The plan would also give town officials an idea of where to create new parking to address growth downtown.

The plan suggests several steps the town could take to improve parking, such as extending the hours when on- and off-street parking rules are enforced at several downtown parking lots and establishing a more unified signage and wayfinding program within the town’s parking district. 

“If we can drive people staying for the day, like employees or business owners, to farther away parking, it opens up the nearer parking for turnover,” Thomas said. “The objective of changing the parking duration was to make the spots closer to the businesses the shortest time, and then make the spots farther away the longer time limits.”

Implementing a payment in lieu of a parking plan for any residential development downtown, such as studio apartments, was another recommendation from the committee.

The board gave the committee the go-ahead to work on evaluating the environmental impact of the plan as required under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. Should that be approved, a finalized parking plan could be adopted, a process Thomas said could take six months to a year.

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