Village officials opted Monday night to forgo voting on a measure to change a parking policy that had been the topic of much debate one week prior in Village Hall, deciding instead to run some ideas by the village's Parking Committee before considering a change.
Last Monday members of the village restaurant and bar industry showed up at a Village Board meeting to express their disapproval with a new policy – suggested by the Parking Committee and subsequently adopted by the Village Board in February – that will require village visitors to pay for parking between the hours of 10 p.m. and midnight, a two-hour extension of previous policy.
With meters turning on March 15 per usual, businesses expressed concern that the new policy would scare off future business. The midnight deadline would make Port Jefferson, already the latest managed parking program on Long Island, perhaps the latest in New York State.
But with space an issue in the village, others say turnover of the parking spaces the village does own should remain a top priority, allowing a constant flow of paying customers to all businesses to maximize the potential of each space.
"Eighty percent full is full," said Trustee Bruce D'Abamro.
Trustee Adrienne Kessel said the relatively inexpensive raise – $1 for the two-hour extension – should be more than doable for the village's visitors, and business owners, if the result is more open spaces and patrons at local businesses.
Mayor Margot Garant voted along with D'Abamro and Kessel along with Trustee Larry LaPointe in approving the two-hour extension on Feb. 4. Trustee Lee Rosner voted against the measure, and made a case again Monday night for rolling the new policy back.
"I'm concerned we're getting too far ahead of the rest of Long Island," he said. "I'd like to see the rest of Long Island catch up a little bit before we go from 10 to midnight."
After the vocal outpouring at last week's meeting, Garant said she was wondering if the new policy as it stands could be altered.
"At this point, what I'm really, really, really concerned about, is the negative perception of Port Jefferson," she said.
Garant pointed largely to pushback from members of the business community; both the Business Improvement District and Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce opposed the measure.
LaPointe noted that none of the solutions proposed by business leaders up to this point have addressed the problem of parking space turnover, an issue Parking Committee members have said is crucial to monetizing the village's limited spaces. But it's a need business owners feel isn't an issue at this time, BID President Tom Schafer has said.
"This is just one of those issues on which reasonable people can disagree," LaPointe said Monday.
Members of the village board are expected to be at the next Parking Committee meeting on Wednesday night, and possibly vote on the measure again at next Monday's board meeting.