In a half dozen parking lots along Madison Street, motorists will find a sometimes confusing system of parking meters that offer different rates and exemptions depending on the time of day, permits and location. A proposal from village staff to do away with 114 metered spaces that allow commuters to park for 12 hours at a time would help simplify the system, proponents said during a council meeting Monday, but a spirited discussion among village commissioners proved there are still a few wrinkles to iron out.
The pitch is to change the rate structure in six municipal lots before new, computerized pay stations are installed later this month. Currently, there are 59 parking spaces in these lots that allow drivers to park for two hours. Twenty-five cents pays for 30 minutes. Those same lots also offer 114 parking spaces in which commuters may leave their car for 12 hours at a time. In those spots, 25 cents pays for 90 minutes.
Partially for the benefit of businesses in the area and partially to simplify the process, Village Administrator Mike Sturino is asking the council to limit parking in every metered space in those six lots to two hours.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Sturino said of the current rate structure. “Our recommendation is let’s just have one rate.”
There would be no changes to the number of handicap parking spaces and the village’s red-top meter program would remain as is. The only variation to the single rate being proposed would come after 6 p.m.
The demand for parking increases in the evening, Sturino said, and the turnover rate slows as people tend to spend several hours at their destination. After 6 p.m., motorists would be allowed to park for four hours at a time, but must pay $1 for 60 minutes. That rate would stay in effect until the bars close on the weekends.
Sturino also proposed opening up Constitution Court for overnight parking and restricting the use of daytime parking permits in the municipal lot on the northwest corner of Circle and Madison streets.
As it stands, Constitution Court is the only lot along Madison Street that does not allow for overnight parking.
Commissioner Mark Hosty favored the proposal in general, but urged village staff to consider adding a third tier to the rate structure that would enable drivers to pay a nominal fee for leaving their car overnight. Doing so could reduce the number of drunk-driving incidents, he said, while still generating some revenue.
“If we all vote to make (Constitution Court) an open lot, we need a fee structure to allow for overnight parking and discourage drunk driving,” Hosty, a bar manager, said.
Commissioner Rory Hoskins was one of two holdouts against offering overnight parking at Constitution Court with Commissioner Marty Tellalian. Both acknowledged the safety component argued by Hosty, but said they do not want to see the lot abused by residents.
The proposal from village staff would likely free up more spaces for customers along the businesses corridor, Mayor Anthony Calderone said, and encourage employees on the strip to park elsewhere. Should the plan win approval, the revisions would work in tandem with other parking programs meant to maximize the village’s parking along Madison Street. Calderone said the village has to take a “multi-pronged approach to finding parking” if the goal is to avoid land acquisitions.
In 2006 an engineering study found Madison Street is falling short of the demand for parking by roughly 160 spaces.
No action was taken on the proposal during Monday’s council meeting, but it’s expected to come back to the council for a vote in the coming weeks.