Hold on a second! Can anybody explain what exactly the problem is that East Hampton Village wants to solve by charging fees for its parking lots?
Amid all the fluster about several schemes floated for changing the downtown parking rules one important thing is missing — any sense of what the issue is in the first place. Without that, it seems that the village board is embarking on an answer in search of a question.
From most reports, East Hampton Village parking worked well enough. Drivers grabbed a printed ticket at the lot entrances to place on the cars’ dashboards. Traffic control officers went around checking that the two-hour limit was not exceeded. This all began to change when Jerry Larsen took over as mayor and, first, raised the time limit to three hours in the Reutershan and Schenk parking lots, then had the ticket machines at the entrances removed altogether. There has been talk that money from paid parking would be used to pay for a sewage treatment plant to serve downtown businesses, but there is not much in the way of a plan for that and other funding options are available. Meanwhile, residents from outside the village lines are incensed at the idea of having to pay to shop for groceries, for example, and vow that they would take their business elsewhere.
East Hampton Village is not hurting for money. It has an extraordinarily deep tax base. Nonresident beach parking permits bring in big bucks, as do the rentals of the village-owned Sea Spray Cottages. Parking fees would make sense in encouraging more drivers to use the long-term lot off Gingerbread Lane, but beyond that, their purpose has not been satisfactorily articulated. Without knowing where you are going, it is impossible to figure out how to get there. It is time that village officials slowed down and explained their parking goals before tossing out a blizzard of so-called solutions.