When Island Park’s Village Hall relocated to the Bank of America building across the street last September, it also took over its parking lot, reserving the spaces for village employees — and just like that, the village’s Long Beach Road business corridor lost roughly 15 spaces regularly used by shoppers and the employees of nearby stores.
The development prompted a lobbying effort by the Island Park Chamber of Commerce. “There are no places to park and everyone is on edge,” said an employee at Jack’s Pizza next door to the lot, explaining that the employees use most of the remaining spots along the streets and lots, leaving few options for customers. He added that tickets are handed out alarmingly fast for people stopping for a slice of pizza, and that even delivery drivers receive them.
“Can you come outside and bring me a bag of chips and a sandwich?” That’s a question Jeffrey Estevez, manager of the Island Park Food Center deli, started receiving from customers after Village Hall made the move. He said they are afraid of being ticketed for double parking, and added that at peak hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., there is no parking, leading to a decline in business.
At Patty’s Place Hair Salon, customers must park at least a block away. Owners Alicia and Rudy Velazquez, said that many clients don’t like walking the distance. Sometimes, Rudy gives them rides, and Alicia noted the loyalty of customers, who keep coming back regardless.
“It’s different for us. Our customers have been coming here for 30 years, so they’re not going to stop,” she said. “But some people just want a slice of pizza, and they can’t just do that [now],” she said, referring to Jack’s, across the street.
“There’s only so many frickin’ parking spots in Island Park,” said Josephine Natallelo, the owner of Jack’s. “We just have to try and work together . . . and make this neighborhood a little better so people come to Island Park to eat.”
She said she brought the issue to the attention of Mayor Michael McGinty, who responded with an open letter to the community outlining his administration’s solution. “We want the business community to know and remember that we are pro-business, and we endeavor to do whatever we can to increase their business and bring new business to the Incorporated Village of Island Park,” McGinty said.
The proposed plan calls for a concrete barrier — filled with flowers, for aesthetic purposes — to be constructed at the lot’s former exit on Long Beach Road, which would open additional street parking. He said this would also reduce liability since there were safety concerns over vehicles exiting the lot into traffic. Additionally, Village Hall spaces would be made available with new parking meters, which the mayor said are being ordered this week.
The spots would be arranged diagonally to maximize space, and plans to reconfigure are currently being drawn up by Walden Environmental Engineering, McGinty said, adding that construction would be handled by Nassau County Department of Public Works. McGinty announced at the May 17 village board meeting that a request for proposals for construction would be sent out once a study is completed. No specific time frame had been set, he said.
Other parking lots to be reconfigured for additional space include one on the corner of Sagamore and Long Beach roads, another on the corner of Long Beach and Warwick roads, as well as the one next to Jack’s Pizza. McGinty cited the reconfiguration of the lot at Masone Beach as an example, where the village was able to squeeze in an additional three spots.
“We are increasing parking as much as the geography will commit us, and we are doing it as technical as possible,” McGinty said. For now, residents and visitors must continue parking along the village side of the Long Island Rail Road station on weekends, and searching far and wide on weekdays.