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Too tight to traverse

Glen Cove City Council tries alternate-side parking on crowded roads

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As the City of Glen Cove celebrated five nights of the Feast of St. Rocco’s July 31-Aug. 4, Mayor Timothy Tenke allowed residents to place traffic cones along First, Second and Third streets to preserve their regular parking spaces as hundreds of cars clogged local streets during the event. While most residents are accustomed to the annual parking headache, those who live along nearby Nassau Avenue face parking problems on a regular basis.

“Parking is terrible around here,” Reina Gonzales said. “We have people who even park in front of hydrants all the time.”

The lines of parked cars on both sides of Nassau Avenue has even become a problem for law enforcement and emergency vehicles, which have trouble driving down the street, according to Deputy Police Chief Chris Ortiz. After receiving input from Ortiz and police officials, the City Council voted on its July 23 meeting to pilot an alternate-side-parking ordinance on Nassau and Maryland Avenue, a street singled out for similar problems, in order to make the roads more accessible for first responders.

“Those roads are just too tight to traverse,” Ortiz said. “We have multiple instances of emergency vehicles hitting parked cars.”

Under the new ordinance, residents would have to park on a different side of the street each day, leaving one side clear from midnight to 6 p.m. Police officials explained that alternate-side parking would be the best solution for these roads — especially Maryland Avenue, a narrow, one-way street — but many residents living in those streets seemed skeptical about whether the policy would work, since alternate-side parking is usually instituted in cities to make way for street sweepers and snow plows.

When Councilwoman Marsha Silverman, who was wary of the ordinance, asked Ortiz why the city should implement alternate-side parking rather than simply prohibiting parking on one side of the street, Ortiz said that the latter action might not seem fair to residents. Alternate-side parking he said, is a way for residents to “share the responsibility” without overburdening those on one side of a street.

Councilman Kevin Maccarone asked whether the ordinance would lead to parking problems on neighboring streets, but Ortiz said that residents could park in their driveways, which he described as empty. After the city council approved of the ordinance, many residents living on Nassau and Maryland Avenue were not pleased to hear about the change coming to their streets.

Gonzales said that parking in driveways weren’t an option for her and other residents of Nassau Avenue, who rent their residences and parking spaces. Gonzales said that her lease stipulates that she leave her house’s driveway clear for the landowner. Without access to the driveway, she said, alternate-side parking would just hurt her and her neighbors.

“It’s not fair, and it doesn’t make any sense,” Gonzales said. “To ask us to keep moving our cars every day and lose our spots is just going to make parking worse than it already is for us.”

“I really hope they don’t make alternate-side parking permanent here,” said Joel Goldberg, another Nassau Avenue resident. “I wouldn’t mind if they only made it alternate-side parking during the Feast [of St. Rocco’s].”

Residents of Maryland Avenue voiced similar sentiments. Donna Covino, a longtime Glen Cove resident who lives in her father’s house on Maryland Avenue, said that alternate-side parking would never work on the street. Everyone was accustomed to parking the way they have for years now, she said, including her brother, who has parked in the same spot in front of their house for 30 years.

“Alternate-side is a bad idea,” Covino said. “Granted, the street is narrow, so when two cars park on opposite sides of each other it’s a tight fit. It’s a very tight fit, but you can get through.”

Edith Flores, 40, agreed. She, too, said she was concerned about the narrowness of the road she has used for 12 years, but she added that prohibiting parking on one side could be a better alternative, since residents wouldn’t have to worry about which days they could park in front of their houses.

“The city needs to do something about Maryland, and it [has] needed to do so for years,” Glenn Howard, who attended the City Council meeting at which the ordinance was passed, said. “Nothing can get through … It’s impossible, and if first responders can’t get through, then this is a safety issue for the people of Glen Cove.”

As the city prepares to install alternate-side parking signs along Nassau and Maryland avenues in the coming weeks, the City Council did agree during the July 23 meeting to monitor the ordinance’s effectiveness by giving police 90 days to report on its results. Depending on the Police Department’s findings, alternate-side parking could be expanded to other congested areas of the city as well.