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TOH business owners speak out against proposed metered parking in town lots, including Woodbine Marina

Business by: Chrissy Ruggeri, November 12, 2022

A proposal put forth by Town of Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth could potentially add metered parking to municipal lots in downtown areas of Huntington, Cold Spring Harbor and Northport, including in the Woodbine Marina lot, pictured here.

After a Newsday article published on October 30 highlighted a proposal put forth by Town of Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth on adding metered parking to municipal lots in downtown areas of Huntington, Cold Spring Harbor and Northport, local business owners came together to fight the proposal. Many used the public participation portion of the November 3 town board meeting to voice their concerns about an additional burden placed on business owners, employees and community members.

The article states that adding metered parking could potentially bring in $1 million and Supervisor Smyth said that his aim is to address overnight parking in downtown lots, which tie up spaces closest to shops and restaurants.

More recently, Supervisor Smyth made an attempt to clarify information about the proposal on the town website. “We would like to take this opportunity to clear up misinformation and provide factual clarification,” the site reads.

The discussion, according to the town website, is to consider adding metered spaces to the following locations:

  • New/Green Street lot

  • Lower Elm Street lot

  • Gerard Street lot (across from the post office)

  • Clinton Street lot

  • East Carver Street lot

  • Cold Spring Harbor Village lot

  • Woodbine Marina lot in Northport Village

Some lots in Huntington Village will remain free to park, including the upper Elm Street lot, former Chase Bank lot, and Nathan Hale lot. Street parking that is currently non-metered will remain free.

After news of the proposal, business owners and residents began spreading the word via social media and with a flier that was left in storefront mailboxes, including those in Northport Village. “Huntington Town Board to put parking meters in most of the biggest free parking lots in Huntington, Northport and Cold Spring Harbor,” the flier reads. “Starting in 2023, $1.00 an hour and big fines.”

At the November 3 town board meeting, over a dozen business owners and residents spoke out against the proposed metered parking. They all aligned on their positions, that adding paid parking to town lots would hurt businesses and discourage shoppers.

Tom Hogan spoke on behalf of the Cold Spring Harbor Business Improvement District and Main Street Association. “I want to be able to wake up in the morning and know that people can come into our community without the fear of having to dig into their pockets just to walk across the street and see what’s in town,” he said. “Give the people the opportunity to come and visit our town, your town and Northport without the imposition of a penalty.”

Sue Murphy, the general manager of the Community Thrift Shop, read a letter written by CEO Linda Taylor. The shop, which was founded in 1965 and now located at 345 Main Street in Huntington, is connected to the Home Visiting Nurse Service in Northport and raises funds for the Hospice House on Laurel Road in East Northport. In her letter, Taylor wrote, “The implementation of metered parking lots in Huntington Village will have a significant negative impact on the Community Thrift Shop for many reasons. Our ability to open the shop six days a week, with enough staffing to accept donations and serve the public will immediately be in peril.”

“I implore you to consider all of the ways in which a parking fee change will impact the most vulnerable people in our community,” she added.

Deb Fallon, a Huntington shop owner, said she was speaking on behalf of the store owners who she communicated with regarding the matter, while distributing 110 petitions. “There’s a lack of communication between the town and the heartbeat of the town, the stores,” she said. She added that business owners shouldn’t have to dissect town code to understand what’s going on. She urged the board to reconsider the proposal, stating, “You’re going about this wrong.”

Peter Goldfarb, the owner of Chip’n Dipped Chocolatier in Huntington Village, said that he rented his storefront twelve years ago because he knew that the free parking lot right next to it would bring customers inside. He said his retail business has done very well, up until the pandemic. “I’m still struggling to afford the rent in my retail location when it’s not really bringing in the money it should. It’s slowly growing, but by charging for parking, you’re gonna kill it,” he said.

Goldfarb noted that storefront rent in Huntington Village is so high, adding paid parking will make business owners question if it’s even worth it. “This is a tax on the working class and business owners, and it’s really not helpful,” he concluded.

Several other speakers mimicked these concerns and at the end of the public participation portion of the meeting, Supervisor Smyth assured the business owners that their opinions were heard, “We’ve heard all of you loud and clear,” he said. The proposed metered parking plan is subject to a public hearing, which will be scheduled before the end of the year, according to the town website.