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Metered parking plans for Bay Shore’s back lots met with stiff resistance at chamber meeting

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At a packed Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore meeting Tuesday evening, Islip Town officials introduced the next phase of Bay Shore’s metered parking program.

And they were met with much resistance from those who packed the public meeting room at Bay Shore-Brightwaters Public Library.

Under the paid parking initiative — which saw digital meter kiosks erected on Main Street and some side streets in the downtown area in November — the meters will be introduced to some of the back parking lots as early as April.

The Town of Islip released a FAQ guide for the upcoming meters.

Here are the lots impacted:

• The Town Lot at South Park Avenue & Gibson Street

• The Town Lot at Maple Avenue & Gibson Street

• The Town Lots along Gibson Street between Maple Avenue and Shore Lane

• The Town Lots along the south side of Mechanicsville Road between Park Avenue & Third Avenue

• A portion of the Town Lot immediately west of North Park Avenue between Mechanicsville & Main Street

Outside of these areas, 60 percent of town lots will be available for free parking, according to the town’s Office of Public Works.

Councilman John Cochrane had previously told Greater Bay Shore the town was adding meters in increments to allow the community to adjust to the changes.

But when the public got wind of this next round of meters, many showed to the Chamber of Commerce meeting with a litany of questions and concerns.

The two-hour congregation had to be extended because of the overwhelming outcry of Bay Shore residents against the town’s plans. At times, the locals even stood up and applauded one another’s ideas, with many expressing that the town does not truly have Bay Shore’s interests in mind.

One of the big questions was what would happen to the fund allocations from the meter revenues.

Joan Manahan, a Bay Shore resident since 1938, passionately shouted out her own views. She said she had submitted a Freedom of Information request with the town and found revenue money was being put into cameras for parking enforcement, rather than into Bay Shore’s infrastructure.

“How do you justify this?” she asked.

Cochrane responded, without disagreeing, by stating money has gone back to the nearby railroad station. “The revenue from the meters goes back to Bay Shore,” he said assuringly. “There were three [criminal] incidents in the rail road station that were aided by meter funds,” with the help of surveillance cameras.

The community’s input is important to the success of the parking program, said Peter Kletchka, the Town of Islip’s public works project supervisor.

One downtown business owner, Mike McElwee, proposed holding off on charging people to park in Bay Shore’s back lots until 6 p.m., which is how Patchogue Village enforces its back-lot parking program. (Under the current plans, the meters would run every day from 9 a.m. to midnight in Bay Shore.) The town representatives were receptive to the idea, and indicated the town would further investigate that possibility.

“We’ve made accommodations in the parking lots before,”said Kletchka, “We will maintain that evolution as the demand evolves with the businesses.”

The concept for metered parking was developed to allow patrons of businesses the opportunity to have accessible parking by moving employees to the outer edges of the perimeter, said Kletchka.

“We are a product of our own success,” he explained. “There is no parking because our downtown is thriving.”

But some employees are unsatisfied with their new parking arrangements.

Sara O’Sullivan of Bridal Suite of Bay Shore on West Main Street, said serious safety concerns go along with making employees park in the free lots that are further away from the heart of the downtown.

“Since the meters have come on the main strip, parking on the back streets has been crazy,” she said. “I have to park way in the back [of the downtown] now, and if it’s payday I have to clutch my purse.”

Two public safety officers are added for ticket enforcement and are assigned to patrol the parking lots, replied Thomas Owens, Islip’s commissioner of public works.

The issues of functionality of the existing meters and the failed rollout of a phone application to pay for parking surfaced as well.

“Every few weeks we sit with the tax payers and we listen to your suggestions,” said Owens. “It’s a work in progress, but we are making changes.”

Top photo: The municipal lot off Mechanicsville Road in Bay Shore that will soon have parking meters. (Credit: Nicholas Esposito)