Bayside study confirms lack of parking, seeks solutions

By Tom Momberg

The Bayside Village Business Improvement District carried out a public parking study in Bayside over the last several weeks, culminating Tuesday with a public meeting to include community input in that study.

The public’s consensus was that the data collected from pay meters, public parking and the residential areas surrounding the Long Island Rail Road station only confirmed their already firm beliefs that parking availability is severely scarce.

The study was conducted by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc, or VHB, with $20,000 in city grant funds allocated by Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside). It combined three data components: on-street pay meter parking on Bell Boulevard and its immediate cross streets, residential-area street parking that fills up in the morning from LIRR commuters and long-term and short-term use of the city Department of Transportation municipal lot on 41st Avenue.

By a parking consultant’s standards, a parking utilization rate of 85 percent to 90 percent is considered full and in desperate need of reconfiguration.

Based on VHB’s estimates, there are roughly 344 on-street pay meter parking spaces within the BID’s boundaries. In data collected from the city’s unimeters along Bell Boulevard, those spaces are used at a rate of 85 percent to 95 percent between the hours of 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Matt Carmody, the director of transportation for VHB, presented “heat maps” during the public meeting, which displayed the utilization of parking on residential streets within a half mile radius of the LIRR Station on 41st Avenue, color coding the streets at different times of day.

The streets with a utilization rate at or above 85 percent were marked in red. And between 8 a.m. and the end of data collection at 7 p.m., the residential street map of Bayside was almost nothing but red.

There are 12 permit-only parking spaces in the DOT lot as well as 47 short-term (four-hour maximum) parking spaces and 33 available long-term (15-hour maximum) parking spaces.

In VHB’s findings, the municipal lot does not fill up until the afternoon, around 1 p.m. But once it is full, it stays full, because there are limited options at that point in the day for parking on residential streets.

“I think people know they can find free parking on the street, so they don’t come and use the long-term parting in the lot in the morning,” Carmody said.

When compared to the neighboring Long Island town of Great Neck, where there are 600 on-street parking spots and 2,000 municipal off-street parking spots, shoppers might decide to steer clear of Bell Boulevard for the sake of time and convenience. That is the BID’s concern.

Bayside Village BID Executive Director Lyle Sclair said he and the parking consultants will have to look at both long-term solutions, as well as actions that can be taken in the interim to make Bell Boulevard more attractive to shoppers, diners and bar goers.

“Part of the job of the BID is to promote local business and to make things as convenient as possible to come to an area,” said Sclair , pointing out he will need to set up a network of communication among businesses to establish things like shared parking for merchants that operate at different times of day.

One of the most attractive short-term solutions to those community members present at the public meeting was to introduce a parking permit system for employees and business owners offstreet and on side streets, which VHB consultants said might take away some of the cars now parked in meter spots.

Other more long-term solutions proposed include working with DOT to reconfigure and stripe on-street parking spaces and readjust meter rates for different times of day. Also, Sclair said the BID would look into ways to encourage a private entity to buy the municipal DOT lot from the city to build a parking garage further down the line.

The study and some project plans will be released online at www.baysidevillagebid.com once they are finalized.