Plaza Set for Parking Changes

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Newmerchants_081215After many discussions, several public meetings and the hiring of a consultant, Great Neck Plaza finally seems ready to make changes that it hopes will have a significant positive impact on the usage of its more than 1,600 garage, street and outdoor lot parking spaces.

A draft of the seven-page proposed resolution to its village code was introduced at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting. The September 16 Plaza meeting figures will feature an actual board vote to make it law. A summary of the changes can be seen at http://www.greatneckplaza.net/Public%20Notices.html.

Even with passage, the Village will need some time to actually readjust its meters, post new signs and allow additional time to make the public aware of the changes. Mayor Jean Celender said that she hopes all of this will be completed before the Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Christmas shopping season begins.

The most dramatic change will be to meter rates (including Muni Meters) and time limits. The rate per hour will increase from a quarter to 50 cents but, for the first time, drivers will be able to purchase time in 30-minute increments.

It’s been determined that many shoppers often need to park for shorter time periods than an hour, so it will be possible in the future to pay just a quarter to run a few quick errands, if those errands can be run in less than 30 minutes.

Meter rates have remained the same during the past 20 years.

Current parking meters feature free parking for five minutes by pushing a button, and also grant five additional minutes after time expires before the red flag appears, indicating a violation. Those two features will not change.

The draft proposes that all spaces in the Maple Drive garage carry a two-hour limit, instead of the present four. The 99 spaces in the Plaza Centre lot (across from village hall and backing Middleneck Road) will have only 20 spots with four-hour limits; the rest will be restricted to two hours.

The resolution won’t institute any changes to Sunday parking. The board said that it wanted to hold off on activating meters on that day, pending further study to see how this first set of changes impact on the village’s longtime parking problems.

A good part of the rationale behind the changes involves ending the abuse of drivers, especially some merchants and employees, who feed the meters in the plaza instead of purchasing permits. To that end, the Plaza is proposing holding the line on permit fees, except to raise the quarterly charge for a commuter permit from $210 to $250.

In introducing the draft at last week’s meeting, Mayor Celender said, “All of this is with the intent of trying to create more turnover in our lots and on our streets. One of the major findings of the study that was done by our consultants, Level G Associates, was that there are many areas of our village that are not turning (parking spots) over and these spots are not serving as many patrons as these spots could. Many of those problems are created by merchants not being in the garages (with permits). The hopes are if we raise the rates and we encourage shorter times in some of the lots…we should get a more efficient use of our parking facilities. It’s going to help the downtown and our merchants draw additional shoppers here.”

Eventually the plaza will have to replace all of its parking meters with a different, more modern system. “The meters are very, very old,” she said. They’re more than 15 years old and you can’t get parts for them anymore.”

In a discussion that followed, the trustees showed support for the resolution. “I think it’s very comprehensive and reflects what we’ve discussed and what our consultants recommend,” said Gerry Schneiderman.

“I think we need to give the public enough notice if there are changes happening,” added Pam Marksheid.

Deputy Mayor Ted Rosen reminded everyone of the pledge to revisit the situation on a timely basis to measure and evaluate what effect the changes have made.

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