By Joseph Konig and Darwin Yanes
The Oyster Bay town board voted unanimously to raise the prices of parking permits for the first time in 18 years ahead of disruptive construction projects in downtown Hicksville.
The Feb. 28 vote came ahead of the March 30 proposal deadline for a state-funded, downtown Hicksville revitalization plan. If approved by the State, the addition of up to 900 new parking spaces could begin, but not until 2019 at the earliest. Until then, the town board is searching for ways to appease Oyster Bay permit holders frustrated by the lack of sufficient parking.
“I ask the board to think about getting up every day and spending 20 minutes missing your train and then thinking that you just had to pay an increase for a permit you can’t even use,” Syosset resident Kevin McKenna said. “If there’s parking spaces, it’s not an issue.”
The fee hike would help facilitate future solutions, while relieving the tax burden on non-commuters, town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said.The resolution raised the cost of a two-year parking pass from $20 to $100 for residents taxed by village municipalities. Commuters residing in unincorporated areas will see an increase from $80 to $120.
“The earlier we get moving on this process, the quicker we can provide more spots to our residents,” Saladino said. “It’s important to generate the revenue that will lead us to creating more spots.”
The new revenue produced by the cost increase will contribute to the $8 million budget the town spends on its parking areas each year, Councilmember Anthony D. Macagnone said.
“This money will go directly to the maintenance and repair and to try to provide more spaces for our commuting public,” Macagnone said.
The town issued approximately 41,000 parking permits for only 6,100 parking spaces. Available spaces will shrink even further this summer when the 1,440 space Hicksville parking garage will undergo renovations for two to three months, Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr. said.
Long Island Rail Road lots in the town fill up earlier and earlier each year, Oyster Bay village resident and commuter of 42 years, Kathleen Gregori, said.
“When I first started commuting I used to go to Syosset,” Gregori said. “That no longer is the case. If you don’t get there by seven o’clock, you don’t get a spot. So, I gave up on Syosset and now I go to Hicksville.”
Hicksville is not much better, Gregori said. She volunteered for the recently formed Commuter Parking Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Saladino and Macagnone, in order to involve herself in the ongoing search for solutions.
“I don’t mind paying more, but when you can’t get a spot, it’s money wasted,” Gregori said.