2005-07-29 / Community

Council Deletes Sunday Meters

Impact Seen On Peninsula
By Howard Schwach

The City Council voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to eliminate metered parking on Sundays, sparking speculation locally that the move would have a negative impact on west end business located nearby the beach.

“Kids will pour in during the summer months and take all the metered spaces early in the morning,” speculated Norman Block, the owner of Georges Florist on Beach 116 Street. “Customers for the stores that remain open on Sunday will have to park at the curb or go elsewhere. Parking at the curb will only get them a high-priced ticket, costing more than a ticket for parking at a meter that has expired.”

Liz Hanna of Brown’s Hardware was even more emphatic.

“We are not happy about this at all. There will be no parking available for customers for any of the stores on the block during the summer months,” she said. “Not only will beachgoers grab the spaces and stay there all day, but residents of nearby streets will park their cars Saturday night and leave them there till Monday morning.”

“We have enough parking problems as it is,” she added. “When the large coop at the end of the block is completed, we will have even more problems as those residents compete for spaces with shoppers.

Transportation Commissioner Iris Weinshall, in testimony to the council, said, “Lifting Sunday metering will wreak parking and financial havoc in some neighborhoods by preventing parking space turnover.”

Weinshall added that the passage of the bill was “driven by the election year calendar.”

Not everybody agrees, however.

City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Jr., who represents the west end shopping areas, told The Wave that he voted for the bill because “it was an opportunity to give something back to the people.”

Addabbo admitted that the parking change might impact some local shopping areas, but said that the impact “would be only one day a week for a limited number of hours” and that the council would reconsider the plan in “unique geographical areas such as Rockaway” after the plan was implemented.

Joanie Omeste, the executive director for the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, said in a prepared statement, “The Peninsula has several different business districts, and the business owners I’ve spoken with are generally okay with [doing away with Sunday metered parking]. Beach 116 Street may present a different situation due to the amount of beach traffic during the summer. From November through April there is already free parking on Sundays without complaint. If it becomes an undue burden on the business owners, Councilman Addabbo advised us that because of its unique situation, Beach 116 Street can be reconsidered to have metered parking during the summer months.”

Jonathon Gaska, the District Manager for Community Board 14 likes the plan as well.

“Aside for the impact it will have on beach areas, this is a positive plan for most of Rockaway,” Gaska said. “People will dump their cars and park all day for those three months, but we have the rest of the year to look at. Far Rockaway, for example, has a lot of churches in shopping areas and the meters became a problem for those people.”

One of those who dislikes the bill is Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has promised to veto it.

Bloomberg, who said that the plan would cost the city about $7 million a year in revenue, took a swipe at City Council President Gifford Miller, who is running against him for mayor.

“We need some adults who will vote for things that really make a difference in this city and not just pander [to voters],” the mayor said.

Experts say that it is highly unlikely that the mayor’s veto will matter. The vote in favor of removing the Sunday parking meters was 41 to 3. Only 34 votes are needed to override a mayoral veto of a council bill.

It was unclear at press time as to when the Sunday parking regulations would be changed.

Council leaders have urged the mayor not to veto the bill and prolong the process, but the mayor seems determined to have his voice heard on this issue.

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