Rockville Centre’s street-side parking system, used by residents and visiting shoppers alike, may soon be undergoing a major change.
Included in the village’s tentative budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, the proposed change to downtown metered parking will include rate increases, a kiosk system and more options for fee payment.
The village’s current fares for parking in the downtown area are one cent per minute, or 60 cents per hour, with a 60-minute limit. The proposed change would hike fares to five cents for every four minutes, or 75 cents per hour, and would allow parkers to remain in the same space for up to 80 minutes. The Board of Trustees estimated that the increase would create $230,000 in additional revenue for the village.
Meters would also be replaced with electronic kiosks, similar to the ones used in village lots. The kiosks, unlike the meters, will allow more methods of payment — along with coins, parkers will now have the option to pay with credit cards or dollar bills. A proposed $100,000 bond for the acquisition and installation of the new kiosks was set for approval at the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday night, after the Herald went to press.
Village parking permits, whose prices went up this past fiscal year, will not be affected. Night parking will also not change — Mayor Francis Murray emphasized that “parking is free after 6 p.m., and it will stay that way.”
According to Village Comptroller Michael Schussheim, the rise in parking rates will actually leave more money in residents’ pockets. Had the village’s tentative budget not included higher parking fares, Schussheim said, the village would have had to make up the money elsewhere — most likely adding it to the already planned tax hike.
Early responses to the proposition have been varied. “I have mixed emotions about the whole system,” said Larry Siegel, president of the Rockville Centre Chamber of Commerce. “I feel that sometimes people get intimidated by the muni-meters because they don’t know how to use them. But I think using credit cards and taking away the need for coins would definitely be helpful.”
Resident Ellen Grossman said she sees the move as more negative than positive. “It seems to me … that we’ve taken away from the businesses that operate during the day, and we’re making it more difficult for them, at the expense of businesses that operate at night,” she said. “I think the people who come in at night create more of a burden on our resources, our police, et cetera.”
As for the possibility of a decline in business due to the fare hike, Siegel was dismissive. “I feel that if people want to come to shop in your shop and you provide good frontage, decent prices and a good service, I don’t think that’s going to make such a big difference, that 15 cents of additional parking.”