Consultant calls for Plaza parking changes

Adam Lidgett

A consultant hired by the Village of Great Neck Plaza trustees presented a plan Wednesday to improve village parking that included a call to reduce time limits for some parking spots and increase meter rates in others.

“If we only had one kind of parker to please it would be an easy problem to solve,” said Gerard Giosa of Level G Associates, an Old Bethpage-based parking consulting firm hired by the village. “But we have parkers who want to pick up a pizza, who want to shop, who want to go to a salon — we have a full gamut of parkers who all have different needs we’ll try to accommodate.”

Giosa, who was hired by the village last summer, recommended reducing the time limit of 92 Middle Neck Road parking spaces from two hours to 90 minutes, with the remaining 343 on-street parking spaces staying at two hours.

He also recommended reducing the four-hour time limit to two hours in 65 out of the 90 Gussack Plaza Lot spaces and increase parking fees for all on-street metered spaces, the Gussack Plaza lot and the Grace Avenue lot from 25 cents an hour to 50 cents.

By decreasing the time limit on some spaces, Giosa said at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting, more cars will be able to come into the downtown area to park and shop. He said Patchogue reduced the time limit on some parking spaces, and that people there are “thrilled to have available spaces.”

He said the main issues with parking in the Plaza are employees of local businesses using parking spaces meant for shoppers, not enough employee parking and not enough parking space turnover.

“We know from code enforcement there are a lot of abuses going on but we want to see what a professional consultant could find out,” Village of Great Neck Plaza Jean Celender said.

Giosa said downtown employees can currently park at a downtown space meant for shoppers for most of the work day for only about $1.25 per day, creating a disincentive for buying the $90 village parking permit, which lasts about three months and translates to the employee paying about $1.50 for parking per day.

Rather than purchasing the permit, some employees feed the meters in the morning and early afternoon, and then move their cars to a parking garage after 3 p.m., when parking is free on weekdays.

A 25-cent increase in cost of parking for an hour, Giosa said, it would force employees to buy a permit, and would also increase revenue for the village, which can be funneled into restoring parking infrastructure.  

Level G also recommends the village allow for $5 per 10-hour parking at the Maple Drive parking garage so employees in the north and west areas of the Plaza’s business district have more access to 10-hour meters.

No action was taken by the board on the recommendations, but some village residents and local business owners voiced their concerns.

Mark Wolf of Camp and Campus, located at 42 Middle Neck Road said the Gussack Plaza Lot parking spaces shouldn’t be reduced to two hours, but could be reduced to three hours.

“If you sit down at a restaurant to eat we hope you would go in some stores and shop,” Wolf said  

Scott Zimmerman, of Aura Hair & Beauty Salon, located at 25 Cutter Mill Road, also said that two hours is not enough time for residents to park. He said people are often at his hair salon for more than two hours at a time.

“If they have extensions in their hair they can’t go out and move their car,” Zimmerman said.

But, Zimmerman said, the village should increase the rates.

Plaza resident Jonathan Stein, who lost in his campaign for Plaza trustee in March to trustees Gerry Schneiderman and Larry Katz, said there is no connection between the parking recommendations and increasing business in the Plaza.

“I recommend you hire a new consulting company that can make the economic link and say how increasing turnover could translate to more economic prosperity in Great Neck,” Stein said.  

During Stein’s campaign, he engaged in a heated exchanged with Schneiderman over draft recommendations presented by Level G, which was paid $2,500 for the study.

Stein characterized Schneiderman’s support for the contract with Level G as “Trustee Schneiderman Caught Urging $2,500 Payoff by Plaza Board” in the headline of a release.

Schneiderman demanded that Stein retract what he called libelous statements.

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