On June 24, the Village of Cedarhurst’s metered parking fee increase — from 25 cents to 50 cents an hour — in the public lots went into effect. When it was instituted Mayor Benjamin Weinstock said, “We felt that this was a fair way to raise funds without raising taxes.”
The village had hoped to use the money to repair the lots. “We figured the most fair thing would be that the people using these lots are the ones paying for the upkeep,” the mayor previously said.
However, the increase has caused many drivers to abandon these meters in search of free parking, which has wrecked havoc on some of the area’s most crowded streets and lots.
Monica Rzewski lives in an apartment on Central Avenue and parks in municipal lot No. 2, between Cedarhurst Avenue and Spruce Street. Since the price doubled, she said she’s seen a substantial increase in people using the permit spots. “The second they upped the prices it became impossible to find a spot,” Rzewski said.
Permits for residents cost $195 and many have decided to pay the lump sum rather than feeding the meters. Because of this Rzewski said, “All day I see people circling the lot looking for a permit spot.” She added that some drivers have had to resort to parking in the metered spots, even after they paid for permits.
In response, the village is conducting an audit to determine which lots need more permit spaces and less long-term meters. Weinstock said they’d be adding 12 to 15 more spots in lots 1, 2 and 6, and that the study should be done by the end of this week.
The impact has gone beyond parking permit owners. The residents of Clinton Avenue are no strangers to parking issues, without driveways most residents are forced to park on the street, and this increase has pushed commuters out of the Long Island Rail Road parking lot onto their avenue.
These are recurring issues on Clinton Avenue, but a few changes to parking around nearby Andrew J. Parise Cedarhurst Park initially alleviated some of the congestion. But this increase once again has commuters hunting for free parking.
Resident Farrah Montouri has been lobbying both the village and the state for special permits that would reserve parking for Clinton Avenue residents. Weinstock said he is skeptical of this solution, as he believes enforcement would be time consuming for the police.
It appears that the problem is twofold, according to Weinstock, who said that the LIRR station has many commuters from Atlantic Beach who don’t have permits and don’t want to pay for the meters. “The commute from the Long Beach station is too long so many people to drive to either our station or the Lawrence one, and while they’re about the same distance to drive our station gets you into the city three minutes sooner,” he said.
Clinton Avenue residents also have to compete with the people who work in the village. Montouri said she’s seen CVS employees park on her block and carpool to work because their parking expenses have now doubled. “Who can blame them?,” she said, “they’re throwing their paycheck away on parking.”
Jerry Cohen, a Woodmere resident who owns Trees Accessories Handbags, a retail store on Central Avenue said, “It’s a hardship for a lot of these full-time workers … I know the village has to be maintained, but I don’t think it’s fair for the employees. It’s doubled their expense and they don’t make the biggest salaries in retail.”
Weinstock recommended that employees look into acquiring parking permits, but the fee for non-residents, which some employees are, costs $420, according to the village website. “There’s no magic bullet,” the mayor said, “if there was a simple solution we would implement it.”