Introducing the legislation to change the downtown parking lots in New Rochelle to charge for 24 hours of metered parking, Councilman Albert Tarantino, sponsor of the resolution, said this “attempt to avert some problems there took almost as much time as the tattoo parlor legislation.” Councilman Louis Trangucci, however, was still concerned about these changes and felt the Council should soon reconsider this issue after George Rainone, Public Properties and Parking Manager, evaluated the new parking patterns. His most serious concern was whether the cars now parking free in the lots would park in the adjacent neighborhoods instead of buying parking permits. Charles Strome, City Manager and member of the BID (Business Improvement District) which had proposed the change, said evaluation would be an on-going process. Mayor Noam Bramson then suggested a date of July l for further discussion.
Councilman James Stowe wanted to know how this evaluation would be accomplished. Questions about how many permits might be issued and the city’s ability to accommodate them were brought up as well as the potential “hot spots” in downtown where more tickets might be written. Stowe persisted by asking what appeal process was available to the public. Rainone felt the public was “not shy” in giving their opinions. After Strome had said he would meet with the parking staff and police to determine how the effectiveness of this change can be measured, Stowe wanted Strome to come back to the City Council to possibly modify the proposal. Bramson wanted to monitor the residential streets to see any shift to free parking spaces. Councilman Barry Fertel who seconded this motion wanted to know if there was any data on whether people going to New Roc were parking for free in city lots. Rainone answered parking is sensitive to movie releases. A 6-0 vote in favor of the parking changes was taken. Mayor Bramson then said Councilman St. Paul, who was absent, was against the change. Bramson said he trusts the BID and wanted to give this paid parking plan “a try.”
After the meeting Strome reported that “staff members would be meeting internally to develop an implementation and monitoring plan for the new parking requirements.” Apparently no criteria for evaluation of the plan have been pre-determined by the City.
Reaction from residents was swift. George Imburgia felt, “The City Council made an unwise decision with respect to new parking regulations. There is no logic or common sense to do something which will force people who usually park in municipal lots for free onto the streets. This will create more hardships for the people who live and have homes here and are not fortunate enough to have driveways or garage spaces. If the City Council was smart they would rescind the decision that they made. Nick D’Arpino agreed with Imburgia.
Another resident of the southern part of the city, Elizabeth Lewin, said this is a “special neighborhood with two colleges, nursing homes, and all kinds of apartments, and all these generate cars overnight in this residential neighborhood. If you have a choice of paying for overnight parking or parking in a neighborhood, what do you think they will choose? There are also expenses of putting up new signs, parking machines where needed and to maintain and repair the present machines. All of these costs are passed onto the homeowners who get charged at both ends. I want to know why they are doing this. What do they expect to get from it? If the City had foresight it would have told Avalon that parking must be included with every apartment. The infrastructure of the city is such that you can’t bus it from one place to another and this is a big expense for residents.”
Lorraine Pierce felt the City should evaluate proposals thoroughly before a vote is taken. The parking problem in the downtown lots is being blamed on the two Avalon buildings, but Monroe College also adds to parking on nearby streets. I have seen Monroe College students park their cars on neighborhood streets and then walk up the streets to the college area.
Summing up feelings of a lot of people is Steve Mayo, a manufacturer and lawyer who has been mentioned as a candidate for District l0 on the Westchester County Board of Supervisors. He said, “If the City Council would start acting like a serious legislative body instead of a Dogpatch, Alabama traffic court, it might commission a comprehensive master plan instead of inflicting another amateurish spectacle on the New Rochelle public. Such a plan could offer guidance on all of our development and transportation concerns and not just zoning and urban planning. After a survey and study of retail and residential construction trends, traffic patterns, school enrollments and commercial activity, the council’s appointed planning consultants could recommend future locations for on- and off-street parking, stop lights and signs, traffic medians, public parkland, tree shading and bench seating, in addition to New Rochelle downtown’s new aesthetic/architectural “look.”
This is the twenty-first century. Why does the council majority continue to address New Rochelle’s real logistical issues with messy, ad hoc political “trials by ordeal” when it has so many proven tools of analysis and execution available to it? I can’t believe they haven’t figured this out yet. They aren’t stupid people.”
On pages 9—10 of the Westchester Herald, April 26, 2010