Parking space ticketing roils Woodmere businesses

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It’s no easy task to find daylong parking in the Five Towns. Municipal lots exist across the villages and hamlets, however, because of certain restrictions, a portion of people who park in lot W-3 in Woodmere believe they are being punished for working in the area.

The Town of Hempstead’s W-3 parking field is sandwiched between Franklin and Irving places off Central Avenue. Employees of local businesses claim that parking in the lot without being ticketed, despite signage that notes a 90-minute limit, went unabated until the summer of 2016 when people began finding $135 tickets on their vehicles.

Since then, after a town Engineering Department study, the lot was split into sections. There are now 16 eight-hour sports, 24 three-hour spots, 47 90-minute spots and four spots reserved for the Woodmere Fire Department.

“Since April, the town has been using an electronic system to mark the location of the tire valve stem,” said town spokesman Mike Fricchione. “It is a streamlined system that leaves no visible chalk mark.”

Ken Stein owns Woodmere Locksmith on Broadway, and while he said that he hasn’t received a ticket because he’s typically in and out of the store all day, he was particularly upset that the change was unannounced. “Don’t just come down here like gangbusters,” he said. “Red light tickets don’t even cost as much as these parking tickets.”

Stein also said that he still doesn’t believe that situation is fair to the businesses or to the people who live in the nearby apartment buildings that would use the lot. His solution would be parking meters, so people still have the option to stay in the lot without worrying about moving their car, and the town would still generate revenue.

Bruce Goodheart, works as a physical therapist at Priority Care Physical Therapy. He said that he’s stopped parking in the lot because he would have to constantly move his car. “I’d have to make a choice between risking a ticket, or leaving a patient alone,” he said. “And [leaving the patient] would be the wrong decision.”

Workers in the area said they have adapted to the change, but remain irritated. Azi Graeber, who has worked at Barberry Rose Management Company, Inc. on Broadway for nearly a decade, has taken issue with a change in the ticketing process.

Typically, tires would be marked with chalk so town employees could see if the car had been moved, however as Graeber explained in an Aug. 22 email to the Town of Hempstead.

“Tickets were sprayed about the lot with no discernable tracking method,” he wrote. “It seems, quite unbelievably, the ticketer may have simply taken photos of rows of cars and on the basis of the photos issued tickets. If that is the case, every one of the tickets issued must be null and void. They would have no way of knowing if a person left the space and came back to take the same space (as often is the case, there are few to no spots available during the regular course of the day). If someone left and came back, a ticket would have been wrongfully issued.”

Have an opinion on parking in the Five Towns? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.