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Parking Workshop Sees No Quick Fixes, but Opens Conversation

A workshop held last week at the Emergency Services Building saw a diverse selection of ideas for parking in East Hampton Village, though leaders are sticking with the status quo for now.

With limited parking in , a mild winter and spring allowing for more time to meander from shop to shop, and summer fast approaching, Village Board members held an open session last week at the Emergency Services Building to brainstorm some ideas to improve parking in the village.

Upon the meeting's end, no immediate changes seem evident. But members of the local business community, general public, and village board alike agreed that the nearly 90-minute-long conversation opened up a discussion about how to handle a dearth of parking spaces in a village that during peak season sees close to 5,000 cars per day enter in and out of its public lots - which accommodate roughly 850 cars.

How exactly to fix that problem - to get the money possible out of each space for business owners and ensure that visitors will want to revisit the village time and time again - remains a difficult task for the village board.

Proposals from members of the audience - which numbered about 15 - ranged from charging for parking just on weekends, to purchasing a high-end cable car, to keeping the system as is.

No ideas stood out as eye-opening and warranting immediate attention, said Trustee Barbara Borsack.

One plan the village does plan on moving on is reaching out to businesses within the business district, to remind them that employee parking is for employees. And the rest of the spots are not for employees.

"We have to give the employees the mindset that the reason they are employed is because of the number of customers coming into their store," said Trustee Richard Lawler. "If you park near the store, and prohibit customers from parking there, at some point you might be unemployed. Until we get that message across, I think they’re going to continue to take advantage."

Village Administrator Larry Cantwell will be sending out notices to business in the village, though he mentioned that the village has done that in the past. Some people just don't cooperate, said Mayor Paul Rickenbach.

"There are some that want to join us in concert," he said. "Others could care less. That's the problem we have with some businesses."

East Hampton Business Alliance Executive Director said her organization has no stance on what to make for parking recommendations - namely in Reutershan and Schenck lots and on the streets - due to the differences in opinion.

Elaine Jones, owner of , said that required employee parking, and three-hour limits in Reutershan (as opposed to the current two-hour limit) makes sense to her. But running a salon, she finds one hour parking on the street restrictive to her business.

"The only reason I'm in business is because my employees are willing to move my customers' cars so they don't violate parking," she said, saying she would prefer to see two-hour parking on Newtown Lane and Main Street.

Jeffrey Fisher, an East Hampton resident, said he favors paid parking.

"The income could be used by the village to clean the parking lots," he said. "Or if nothing else, create a reserve fund and eliminate the need for increased taxes later on."

Andrew Goldstein, the chair of the Village Zoning Board of Appeals, recalled his days working in New York City, where many people don't have to worry about taking cars since they don't drive them in the city.

"People would walk 10, 12 blocks twice a day," he said. "And people can't walk across Reutershan lot to get to work? We might actually have some more important things to think about."

dont care March 30, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Having lived in the village on Pleasant lane for 27 years in a perfect Village Herrick park should be converted into a multi-purpose parking lot allowing a short walk to the village for EVERYONE .The Employee and long term lot should be changed to a multi-purpose Recreational Park.The employee lot is under utilized all winter,as is the John Marshall Playground.All they have to do is swap dirt grass and that lame blacktop they put down.
Barbara Borsack March 30, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Just to clarify: Herrick Park was given to the village with restrictions and it can never be anything other than a park. The John Marshall playground is owned by the school district, not the village.
dont care March 30, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I am aware of your clarifications however the fact remains the employee parking lot is under utilized by the employees in the village.In the summer workers can't get a spot because buses and trucks and landscape companies use the lot.Some businesses use the lot as aux parking .Maybe if you banned trucks and buses and motor homes from parking there in the summer and issued employee parking stickers it might relieve some of the parking problems.I am just throwing out some ideas.
S.B. Bonacker March 30, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Getting the employees of these shops out of the main Reutershan parking lot is a very good start. I think the village is doing the right thing in sending out these notices to businesses; and this has to be enforced YEAR ROUND. If the shoppers with money to spend can't find spots, they will just move on and go to Amagansett, Bridgehampton. Employee parking stickers are also a good idea so they can use the long term lots with no time limits.
Barbara Borsack March 30, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Ideas are always welcome!
Barbara Borsack March 30, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Employees can already use the long term lot as long as they want - just not overnight. Twenty-four hour parking is in another area. But any employee can park all day at the long-term lot with no problem so stickers are really not necessary.
Preliator March 30, 2012 at 07:42 PM
It is as simple as a bad case of 'lazyitis', another symptom of the little entitlement monsters we are unleashing on the world. It is also rather sad that some can not even grasp the idea of providing easy parking for paying customers; you can't make this stuff up.
Sarntmajor March 31, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Lazy, perhaps, but also miserable in bad weather and potentially dangerous given the route many need to take to get in and out of the long term lot. Also, I recall a time when there was a Buick dealership in what is now a nice green area. Can't that be reclaimed as a place to park? As the town grows, so does the need for parking, after all. And, again, I say the need for in-town transportation is needed. Small bus service for both workers and those who would prefer NOT fighting for space but would enjoy leisure time in town without worrying about time limits or who's going to play bump-a-car in the lot. A small investment could prove profitable enough to pay for the bus and drivers, giving us more employment in town. Is this idea worth private enterprise to look into or would town have restrictions?
Barbara Borsack March 31, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Again - good thoughts! Some clarification: the green where the Buick dealership stood was bought with CPF money, and restrictions forbid a parking lot there. Even so, if folks don't want to walk to the long-term lot it seems unlikely they would want to walk to that area, which is farther away. And although there has never been any crime associated with someone walking to the long-term lot we do understand the concerns and have attempted to make it as safe as possible, with additional police patrols and by clearing some bushes away. We hope that will help. The idea of a town transportation system is a good one and perhaps should be suggested to the Town Board. The village shuttle of a few years ago did not garner enough ridership to make it worthwhile but perhaps a shuttle coming from outside the village and picking up in other areas of town has merit. It is no small investment, but perhaps someone with a vision could try something! There are no easy answers to this dilemma! But ideas are welcome for discussion...

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