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Village Considers New Parking Meters

Improvements would be small help, say business owners.

Port Jefferson's village board is looking at new parking meter options and could have the current meters replaced as early as March, in time for the resuming of paid parking after its suspension for winter, according to trustee Larry LaPointe.

The current meters, which have been in place for five years, have been unreliable in processing credit card transactions, said LaPointe, who is spearheading the move for new ones.

"We wanted to get an idea if the technology has improved over the last five years," he said. "The industry standard for credit cards has gotten much better, and we're trying to figure out what enhancements are possible."

LaPointe used the example of an iPhone application that makes transactions easier by communicating wirelessly with an appropriate meter, though he said it's only one technology among several which are being explored.

A committee has been discussing the issue at weekly meetings and will likely present its findings at the board's next meeting on January 23. If the recommendation is that the meters should be replaced and the board approves, the village will open bidding for vendors.

LaPointe said the price for leasing or renting new machines is expected to run about $100,000. He said the village collects a total of $300,000 each year from its meter system.

Local business owners say the prospect could alleviate some of the complaints they frequently hear from their customers, but that the implementation of any paid parking has been the real problem.

"It hinders our customers," said Donny Stanley, a clerk at gift shop on East Main Street. "They complain about it all the time. Even if you want to pop into a store for five minutes you have to pay."  

Tara Seta opened her clothing boutique, Trés Jolie, on Main Street eight months ago.

"I've noticed quite a few times that [customers] express they wish they could stay and shop, but they have to run out and pay for the parking," said Seta. She said she has heard many complaints from neighboring store owners about the paid parking and its effect on business.

"As a merchant, I would prefer to be somewhere like Huntington where there is no paid parking, but I can't compare - this is a tourist town," said Seta. She said she believes that in the end, giving more people the chance to park and visit the town is better.

Alice Marchewka owns restaurant on Main Street. She said she hasn't seen any increase in foot traffic since the meters were first installed, but that the move hurt her business tremendously.

"We lost all of our regulars. They left and aren't coming back," she said, adding that she knows of some who have chosen spots to frequent in villages which don't charge for parking.

She welcomed any improvements that might make the system less daunting, especially because the current meters don't accept dollar bills.

"Who walks around with a bunch of quarters in their pocket? And who wants to use a credit card for 25 cents?" she said.

Kenster January 11, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Metered Parking in Port Jefferson is not rational. It's one thing to limit or have parking meters on the street but turning the Village Parking lots into metered lots fundamentally changed the business dynamics in Port Jeff for the worse. Rational people will and do ask themselves if they want to pay or risk getting a ticket when they visit Port Jeff. One simple fact, since metered parking has been in force thousands of tickets have been written and do you think those people are coming back any time soon. Case in point, If you are a rational person thinking about have a party or affair at one of Port Jeff's great restaurants, why would you ask your guests to come Port Jeff and risk getting a ticket or pay for parking when there are lots of great places elsewhere. In these difficult economic times ,visitors don't want to pay for parking and they definitely don't want worry about parking tickets. Parking should be free in Port Jeff. Put limits on parking, make lots of rules but parking should be free! The people who defend metered parking don't seem to comprehend that metered parking is one of the main reason rational people decide not to come to Port Jeff. Thanks to Mayor Garant the meters are off for the winter. Intead of spending more money on a parking system that negatively impacts business in Port Jeff and actively encourages people to eat, shop and relax anyplace but Port Jeff, the rational decision would be to turn the meters off for good!
Parking Committee Member January 12, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Kenster: From the perspective which you express your views it appears that you are a business owner or an employee of a business in the area of the meters. From that perspective you should agree that there is no free, certainly no free unlimited, parking in our downtown business district. So when you claim the "rational decision" would be no meters, but you recognize the need for "rules" and "limits" on parking, what you are advocating is a punitive instead of a positive way of managing our parking. Again, there is no free parking. If it is timed, as it is on our commercial streets, a free 1/2 hour or hour parking space quickly turns into a $30 space if the vehicle is not moved within that time limit and is ticketed. If there are no meters in the lots then there must be time limits, if for no other reason than to prohibit the 200 to 300 employees from occupying valuable spaces all day and night. Once limits, which you suggest, are in place then people must move their vehicles within those limits or pay a $30 fine, and as you said getting a ticket is a reason not to return. With the current meter system people "attending a party" can pay and stay without fear of getting a ticket and they do not need to move their vehicle . This is a fair and rational system employed around the country. Having no meters is a misguided, self-interested, rationale for employees and business owners, which ends up being a punitive instead of positive means of managing our parking.
Alex February 13, 2012 at 05:20 AM
The meters are horrible for business. They cause people to either not shop in Port Jeff, or rush through their shopping so that they do not need to put in more money. If you are a Brookhaven resident, it is recommended to park in the free Brookhaven lot by the water to avoid having to pay the village money that is not necessary.
BillLongisland February 13, 2012 at 10:22 AM
Really, "what" does PJ have to offer, and on a consistent basis ? By now locals have their entertainment "haunts", whether it's for a drink or dinner, they do their business and then leave. This is the Only Time Of The Year when visiting Lower PJ is pleasant...other than this time of year, The Tourists Can Have It the rest of the year! There are more things, "more local" to people than Anything in PJ ! In fact, The Rail gets more steady business Than Anything in PJ, and look what that area is like ? It's a Permanent Dump that you don't want to spend any reasonable length of time in...unless it's for something you get, and then Immediately get out of ! PJ Village can give all of the ticket amnesties and parking holidays they want...it won't have any Long Term demonstrable effect on business...such as it is there.
Parking Committee Member February 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Alex, Don't the limits of 1/2 hour, hour, and two hour parking on the downtown streets force shoppers to "rush" their shopping more than the unlimited time available in the metered lots?

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