After two more weeks of input – in front of Village Board, Parking Committee, and Business Improvement District meetings – and even a "field trip" to a parking meter on Monday night, village trustees decided at Monday's board meeting to stick with the policy it enacted in early February, when it voted to extend the paid parking deadline from 10 p.m. until midnight.
Monday night's conversation saw basically all of the same points made in previous debates about extending the metered parking hours another two hours – though with Trustee Bruce D'Abamro absent, Trustee Lee Rosner had one less person to attempt to sway.
Rosner cast the sole dissenting vote in February to extend metered parking, and fundamental disagreements between he and other board members came back to the necessity of turning over parking between 10 p.m. and midnight – a need Parking Committee members said is vital given the small number of spaces in the village.
"If it was only revenue-driven, we would be looking at other options right now," Mayor Margot Garant said Monday night.
Garant also said the only reason she would consider rolling the time back to 10 p.m. would be to avoid negative publicity for the village – a concern, she said, given the outspoken reaction to it.
The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors – which consists of vendors in many different industries – opposed the extension as well as the BID. Last week, BID President Tom Schafer and noted that the measure only extends Port Jefferson's distance between it and the second-latest paid parking system on Long Island: several which stop charging at 6 p.m.
"I don't know if I want to lay claim to that as a prize," Schafer said two weeks ago, when he and several other members of the bar and restaurant industry spoke out against the measure.
At Monday's board meeting, Rosner led a small group of individuals outside to a nearby parking meter, where Garant used the meter system as snow started to fall.
Though Rosner pointed to the display, saying the village will "have a lot of frustrated customers out there at 10 o'clock at night," he was unable to convince Trustees Larry LaPointe and Adrienne Kessel. The vote failed, 3-1.
"There are times, no joke, where I’ve had to take my car back to my house, and walk down with guests," said Kessell. "And I would never vote for something I thought would be a detriment to the village."
LaPointe noted that most other comparable villages to Port Jefferson have train stations closer than Port Jefferson's, offering alternative ways to reach the village.
"They no longer have the issue of rationing past 6 p.m.," he said.
After about a half hour of debate, Rosner said that moving forward, the village may want to consider advertising its smartphone app on parking meters so individuals can renew their parking spaces from the warmth of their restaurant booths.