2011-01-07 / Front Page

Feed The Greedy Meters

By Nicholas Briano

Bridge toll increases, no Cross Bay Bridge resident rebate, higher MTA fares and now, an increase in parking meter rates. Once again Rockaway and Broad Channel residents are being asked to dig a little deeper into their pockets to help pay for the seemingly never-ending budget crisis of the city and state.

As of Monday, parking rates officially increased throughout the five boroughs. In Manhattan it will cost up to $3.00 per hour in some areas, which equates to five minutes per 25 cents. Here in Rockaway and other parts of the outer boroughs the rates will go up from 75 cents per hour to $1.00 per hour.

It will take some time for the city to implement the changes to the nearly 18,000 single space meters and muni- meters in Queens. However, Manhattan and Queens are first on the Department of Transportation’s list. Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx will be spared for a few months longer as the agency makes its way into those boroughs.

As of press time most meters in Rockaway hadn’t been adjusted yet to reflect the increase. The changes must be manually performed by DOT officials. Therefore, every meter in the city might not reflect the price increase until the end of June.

One resident shopping on Beach 116 Street this week was outraged.

“Everything is going up in this city,” Rockaway Park resident Debra Colona said. “The mayor seems to think we’re all rich here and we can fork over more money whenever he wants it. It’s just not right.”

A few motorists on the busy commercial strip insisted that they don’t even pay the meters, ignore the regulations and risk receiving a ticket.

One restaurant owner, who refused to be mentioned by name, referred to the increase as a crime against taxpayers.

“Didn’t these meters go up recently? Who lets Bloomberg get away with doing this. Tolls are up, fares are up and now meters. If he wants to drive business away from here then he’s doing a good job.” In early 2009, the meters were increased for the first time since 1992 when the rate increased from 50 cents per hour to 75 cents.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich also expressed his unhappiness. “Talk about a lousy Christmas gift! People won’t even be able to go shopping without the city nickel-and-diming them at every turn,” he said.

John Lepore, president of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce says that no time is a good time to raise meters, especially now.

“I understand the mayor’s crusade to limit traffic and impose taxes for people to be in Manhattan and that makes sense,” he said. “But in the outer boroughs it’s ridiculous and in Rockaway it is ludicrous. Tolls on bridges are up and our economy is struggling. The city needs money and they don’t care where it comes from.”

Lepore, over the past few days, has talked to some of the chamber’s members and says they all share the same sentiment.

“It’s just another thing being piled on us. It is tough enough to keep customers in stores around here and now here comes another disincentive,” he continued. “Especially considering how aggressively cars are being ticketed.”

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