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Parking: Say Goodbye to Village Ticket Dispensers?

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 11:20

Capt. Anthony Long of the East Hampton Village Police Department addressed the village board last Thursday on the pros and cons of parking regulations. On the streets, the village now uses chalking, which, he said, is “time-tested but labor-intensive.” The ticket-dispensing machines in the village’s parking lots, on the other hand, can lead to user error, as drivers either forget to display their ticket on the dashboard, or do so with the wrong side up. And, he said, the machines are costly to maintain, and cause traffic backups during summer months.     

In November, a representative of LAZ Parking, which provides parking and transportation services to municipalities, presented the board with options for new ticket-dispensing machines, which would be located inside parking lots, not at the entrances. The cost of installing such meters would be high, Captain Long noted, and they would inconvenience drivers, who would have to walk over to take a ticket and then walk back to their cars. A license plate reader, positioned at the entrances and exits of lots, would also be pricey, costing about $40,000 per lot, he said.     

He suggested the board instead adopt a mobile chalking system, which could read license plates and keep track of time restrictions. The equipment could be mounted to one police car, which would roam the commercial district; a hand-held version could be used when a lot is too crowded for the car to get around easily. “We looked at the technology, and I was fairly impressed,” said Captain Long.     

The mobile device can be programmed to identify parking spots with different time limits, which would give the village leeway to vary restrictions, he said, and there would be no public inconvenience. Drivers wouldn’t need to visit a ticket dispenser, they would just have to find a parking space.     

The board agreed that was the best option, and Becky Molinaro Hansen, the village administrator, said she would solicit bids for the equipment.     

While on the subject of parking, Rose Brown, a board member, said the board should consider making one of the village’s lots available for three-hour stays. “Decades ago, two hours probably worked for the village, when there was no Amazon or internet shopping and we were looking to move people along in a timely fashion, but now we are hoping that people shop, and dine, and it’s hard to do so in two hours.” She also suggested that the village’s newest parking lot, on Osborne Lane, which has been underutilized, could be used for paid parking. Merchants or residents who wanted to be assured of a space could pay a yearly fee to park there.     

Also last Thursday, Mayor Richard Lawler announced that PSEG Long Island’s controversial plan to put a supersize utility pole in front of 51 Cooper Lane has been put on hold, due to a lawsuit filed against the village by the homeowners Dan and Yvonne Ujvari. An alternative option will be explored, the mayor said.     

According to PSEG, the pole would have allowed for fewer transmission lines and shorter poles on nearby McGuirk Street. The Ujvaris’ lawsuit also names PSEG, the Long Island Power Authority, and East Hampton Town as defendants.     The town was included because a PSEG engineer had recommended placing the proposed pole in front of Cedar Lawn Cemetery, farther east on Cooper Lane. That section of the street is within town boundaries, not the village’s. Ms. Hansen said that the town would not agree to have the pole on its land.     

The utility poles in the neighborhood have been an issue for residents since 2014, when PSEG, in an effort to upgrade power lines, replaced existing poles with ones 10 to 15 feet taller. A lawsuit brought that year by a citizens group seeking to have the poles removed and all the lines buried is ongoing; the Ujvaris are seeking to join that suit as well.       

Mayor Lawler tapped Ms. Brown and Arthur Graham, another board member, to lead an advisory committee “to explore all options regarding the PSEG transmission lines and to review the public’s concerns.” Ms. Brown said on Monday that the committee will try to find consensus among all the neighborhood’s residents. It will include residents of McGuirk and King Streets, and Cooper Lane, as well as an East Hampton Town board member, the village and town superintendents of highways, the village attorney, and Ms. Hansen.     

Having the poles lowered would have been a substantial improvement for McGuirk Street’s homeowners, said Ms. Brown. “I know they’re frustrated, they’ve been dealing with this for six years.”     

Neither she nor Mr. Graham was on the board in 2014, when the initial deal with PSEG was approved, nor in 2017 when the proposal to install the Cooper Lane pole was first discussed. “I was really hoping the board members who have historical knowledge of the deal would have taken part in the advisory board, but I’m more than willing to work hard and find a viable option,” she said. “This is going to be a challenging task; however, I am committed to getting it done.”     

Also last Thursday, East Hampton Fire Chief Gerard Turza Jr. asked the board to enact legislation that would require all new houses in the village to install a Knox Box, a depository for keys to be used by the fire department. The law would also apply to existing houses that request a building permit, and to commercial buildings with fire alarm systems. East Hampton Town has had a similar law since 2010, he said.     

“We’re very well trained and equipped to force entry, but we’d rather walk in in a civilized manner,” said Chief Turza.     The boxes cost between $140 to $175 for residences, depending on color and trim, and between $350 to $500 for commercial buildings, he said. The fire department would have a master key.     

Board members agreed the legislation was a good idea, and Mayor Lawler said a resolution to enact it would be forthcoming.     

In other business, the board resolved to consolidate and refinance bonds from 2008 and 2013, which, according to Ms. Hansen, will save the village more than $78,000. Members also resolved to temporarily suspend sections of the village code pertaining to exterior decorations and signs, to allow businesses to celebrate the upcoming centennial of the village’s incorporation by displaying bunting, flags, streamers, and banners. The decorations would have to adhere to the centennial’s designated colors: red, white, and blue. The requirements will be suspended from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30.     

At the end of the meeting, Barbara Borsack offered four proposals for the board to contemplate. The first was to create a joint task force with East Hampton Town to examine ways to improve traffic, including creating a townwide shuttle system.     She next suggested the board add a public hearing at the start of each meeting, so residents could share their concerns without having to wait for the board to make it through the day’s agenda. “We’ll do that going forward,” said Mayor Lawler.     Ms. Borsack then recommended increasing the village’s presence on social media by adding more information on its Facebook page, and suggested initiating a monthly kaffeeklatsch at Village Hall, at which residents would be able to discuss issues with board members and other village officials.     

Also at last week’s meeting, Nicholas Kahn was appointed as a full-time paramedic, effective Sunday.

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