Parking fees proposed for Bay Shore station
Residents packed the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Library last Monday to hear about new parking fees.

IB/Chalifoux

Parking fees proposed for Bay Shore station

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
12/3/2015


ISLIP TOWN—On Monday night, Town of Islip officials held a public meeting at the Bay Shore-Brightwaters Library to introduce the details of an upcoming paid parking meter program at the Bay Shore train station starting early next year. The presentation soon drew the collective ire of the packed crowd of residents, with many of them questioning the feasibility, efficiency, impacts and motives behind the plan.

The new system marks the second phase of the town’s parking meter program, which began this past summer at the town-owned Maple Avenue docks near the Fire Island Ferry terminals down the road. Since then, town figures indicate that those meters have accumulated $135,000 in revenues, with 550 $75 tickets issued between early July and late September. The anticipated third phase will be implemented in the nearby Main Street business corridor. In the future, similar parking programs could be introduced in other stations town-wide. 

The railroad system consists of five meter machines—three on the north side (Penn Station-bound) and two on the south side (Montauk bound). Out of a total of 500 spaces, 325 will be utilized as reserved 24-hour parking spaces, requiring permits from regular commuters. Town of Islip residents are able to purchase a yearly permit for $90, while nonresidents will be charged $200 for the same spaces. Meanwhile, other spaces will be metered for parking at $3 per day and $2 per 12 hours. Permits—which expire at the end of each year on Dec. 31—can be purchased anytime throughout the year, with ones bought after Aug. 31 being just $30 for Islip residents and $70 for non-residents (acting as a deterrent for those seeking a space exclusively for ferry parking). Residents were given the opportunity to fill out permit applications at the meeting.

“This will be an ongoing project at the station,” said Councilman John Cochrane Jr., who has helped spearhead the project in recent years. “The reason we are starting out in Bay Shore is because a lot of my friends who commute and business owners I deal with have had parking problems. The train station has been a real mess for many years. We’ve spent over $75,000 per year for sweeping, snow removal and trying to keep up with trash in the area, and that doesn’t work.”

The main goals of the program are to increase safety and security, clean up the overpass, walkways, pavement and landscaping, improve lighting, install security cameras monitored by town public safety officials and prevent ferry parking activity in spaces intended for LIRR commuters. Proceeds from the program are designed to funnel back into the surrounding area.

“The philosophy of parking in modern systems is to recycle capital back into the system to beautify it, make it excellent, and make it a more usable facility for everyone,” said parking consultant Gerard Giosa of Level G Associates, who has worked alongside town officials to implement the program. “These are standard, classic parking management principles. The best parking systems are the ones that have a sense of pride, and this is going to be beautiful and efficient. There may be some fees associated, but in order to properly maintain it, this is actually a healthy way to manage parking assets.”

The intended question and answer portion became difficult to moderate, as many residents shouted over each other to make their voices heard. Question topics included how well rules and regulations would be enforced, the necessity of fees and how the money would be utilized, and whether or not there would be enough permit spaces to accommodate daily commuters.

“We pay enough taxes as it is,” said one resident. “When does it stop?”

“There are people who already park for longer than the spaces allow,” asked another. “Why haven’t the existing parking rules already been enforced?”

“No one here believes that any of this is going to be for our benefit,” said another. “It sounds to me like there’s not going to be enough spots there.”

“What if my permitted car is in the shop, and I have to take my husband’s car to the station?” asked one woman. “Can we do one permit per household?”

“What’s going to stop people from not paying the $90 and parking in my neighborhood next to the train station?” asked a resident, who was told that there would be restrictions against parking in surrounding areas.

“I’d ask that you give priority to Bay Shore and Brightwaters residents before you start approving people outside,” said Bay Shore resident Mary-Louise Cohen, who was told that such residents would get priority and that the town does not anticipate heavy demand from non-local residents.

“Overall, I think this will give us the opportunity to deliver a better product to the taxpayers,” said DPW and Parks Commissioner Tom Owens, who also noted that generated funds would not go towards hiring more people. “We intend to make the program as efficient as possible. We’re reasonable people, and we’re going to do everything possible to accommodate you. This is just an initial plan, and changes can be made to meet certain demands along the way.”