BAY SHORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A popular hamlet on Long Island’s Great South Bay is an uproar over parking.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the town board is divided over whether a controversial parking meter program is hurting or helping local businesses.READ MORE: Times Square Shooting: Intense Manhunt Continues; Sources Say Shooter Known To Police For Illegal Vending In Area
The hamlet of Bay Shore is enjoying a decade of resurgence – so popular that vehicles seemed to be everywhere.
“We have over a million people from now — this weekend — to August; let’s say Labor Day or after that — traveling down Fourth and Maple Avenue to go to Fire Island – over a million people,” said Islip Town Councilman John Cochrane Jr.
So hundreds of thousands of dollars were poured into a parking meter pilot program, directing tourists to meters at the Fire Island Marina – or all day at the train station.
“We did have so many of the Fire Island tourists parking their cars all day, and in general, people hogging the spots,” said Bay Shore store employee Taryn Sanwald.
But the Bay Shore Chamber of Commerce said the parking plan recently backfired when meters went up on Main Street and in the 600 parking space spaces in town-owned lots behind businesses.
“At some point, you have to say enough is enough,” said Donna Periconi of the Greater Bay Shore Chamber of Commerce. “No other hamlet has meters in the Town of Islip, so it is discriminatory taxation.”
Bay Shore print shop owner Charles Beitch wishes the meters would not operate during the day and would stay off until about 6 p.m. He thinks the hamlet could live with night and weekend meters.READ MORE: Mother's Day Bliss: Moms Enjoy A Day Of Pampering, Family And Fine Foods At Various NYC Restaurants
Michael McElwee has been in business for 15 years, and he said one month ago when hundreds of meters went in the 20 parking lots behind Main Street huge problems occurred.
“We’re seeing a drop in the bottom line. We’re seeing less people come in. The people that are coming in are complaining to us,” he said.
McElwee chairs Bay Shore’s restaurant association. His customers complain the meters are confusing – taking credit cards and quarters, but no dollars and no app.
He said the diners are interrupted mid-meal to refeed the meters.
“The town has told us this, ‘You know, this is a test program, we’ll be fluid, we’ll get back to you,’” McElwee said. “We’re worried we’re not going to be here by the time they get back to us.”
The uproar is dividing the town council as to whether the meters are the best use of taxpayer dollars.
“I would like to see this parking program significantly peeled back or completely eliminated, because the business owners are telling us that it is drastically affecting their bottom line,” said Islip Town Councilmember Trish Bergin Weichbrodt.
For now, the future of the Bay Shore parking meter program — and plans to expand it into neighboring hamlets — remains uncertain.MORE NEWS: Cyberattack Prompts Major Pipeline Operator To Halt Operations; What Will It Potentially Mean For Gas Prices?
The town board awarded a $750,000 contract to purchase the meter machines. There will be another public meeting next week.