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Riverhead may limit downtown parking to maximum of 3 hours

Riverhead Town Hall on May 23, 2013.

Riverhead Town Hall on May 23, 2013. Credit: Newsday

Business owners and residents voiced concerns about a proposal to limit the parking hours of a downtown Riverhead parking lot during a public hearing Tuesday night.

The proposal would prohibit parking to no more than three hours in the north portion of the Peconic Riverfront parking lot, between the Peconic River and East Main Street. The lot has 60 parking stalls located south of the stores on the south side of East Main Street.

The restrictions would be in effect on weekdays from 8 a.m. to midnight.

While the move aims to keep parking spots available for patrons of downtown restaurants and businesses, some business owners questioned how the parking ban would work and affect their employees and customers.

Angela DeVito, a South Jamesport resident and president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, said the proposed rule wouldn’t be “sufficient enough” to accommodate parking needs for business owners in the area, and suggested extending the parking district.

Councilman John Dunleavy responded that the town was “trying to work with everyone” and the parking ban was much preferred over installing parking meters instead.

“We don’t want to do that,” Dunleavy said. “That’s a last resort.”

In an interview earlier Tuesday, Councilman Tim Hubbard, who serves as liaison with the town’s Parking District Advisory Committee, said the committee had heard complaints from business owners in that section that residents in the nearby Summerwind Square apartment complex were parking in the East Main Street parking stalls all night through the morning, reducing available parking for restaurants.

The parking ban, Hubbard said, “is really just to clear the overnight parking out, and it frees up parking for businesses.”

During the hearing, Ray Dickhoff, co-owner of Joe’s Garage and Grill on Main Street, said his business had a band that played nights for up to 4 hours and asked how the move would affect them.

Representatives from Suffolk Theater suggested a voucher system for the theater that would give theatergoers an additional hour so they could visit restaurants downtown and not be penalized under the new parking ban.

Hubbard said adding in a voucher system for the theater would be “an easy fix.”

However, Cynthia Jones, a resident at the Summerwind apartments, said fellow residents were often strapped for parking spots themselves as patrons parked in apartment spots.

“There are times on the weekend after people come in to Riverhead as visitors . . . that the residents of Summerwind do not have a parking spot,” she said.

The public will be able to comment on the proposal until April 28.

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