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Parks vs. Parking? Commuters Feel Squeeze

In the Tarrytown commuter lot, a fence recently appeared recently blocking off train station parking spaces.

 

Despite the years of planning and public debate leading up to this moment, many commuters have been startled recently by the sudden and unannounced arrival of fencing blocking them from a good portion of the Metro-North parking lot in Tarrytown. Unfortunately for commuters, the reason is not to provide a newly paved parking lot be on the way but tennis and basketball courts instead in this central lot.

While some sports players might be happy to have their amenities return, commuters to stow their cars here feel like they are on the wrong side of a park vs. parking problem. Non-residents pay more than $1,000 for the parking privilege. 

Though it is frustrating to see that section of the lot barricaded, commuters may be relieved to know Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell said the parking lots actually rarely get used to full capacity. He noted that if ever there was a deficit that residents would get first dibs. That is not good news for non-residents who would see fewer permits issued. Thankfully, that is not the case now. 

Officials point to the temporary lot available now off West Main Street (there is a big sign here for this), and the new lot underway further down Green Street in the former fire training yard.

What the administration does apologize for however is the abruptness of the loss of a big central portion of the parking before the new lot is complete. The recent timing of the project, they say, has not been as planned.

The restoration of Andres Brook portion of the park rehab was meant to come first while a new replacement parking lot would be built. But because of a delay in the water permits required for the brook project, the work had to continue elsewhere to avoid increasing project costs.

There will be some weeks of unexpected lag time between the destruction of the old lot and the construction of the new lot on Green Street, but both the Mayor and Village Administrator Mike Blau have been assuring people that it's truly only a few weeks – contractors promise early September. They also say that new parking spaces will actually exceed the old.

Blau said there's 155 spaces being removed, with 167 on their way further south.

The now-controversial placement of things – basketball and tennis in the lot and a new commuter lot further south – never generated much debate at the time of the public meetings, said Fixell. This followed years of Planning Board, Board of Trustees, Recreation Advisory Committee, and Waterfront Advisory Committee meetings.

One resident Dr. John Marks wondered why the project wasn't billed more as a "parking" project than a "park" one (and why not target announcements to commuters and nonresident users alike while they were at it), Fixell said they never saw it this way. 

"I'm sure we didn't advertise it to non-resident commuters or to the commuter lot generally, but that goes back to how we viewed the project – once we figured out that we weren't going to significantly reduce the spaces, we didn't perceive the location switch as being an issue that deserved special attention," Fixell said. "But I do agree that if we had advertised it as such, the turnout and reaction likely would have been significantly different."

Blau said the Pierson Park rehab comes from a six-year planning process that took different forms along the way. From the earliest talks of the project, the idea was just to replace park existing amenities with the same. The plan, he added, was actually scaled back in the end to take away less of the parking lot.

It's the "further south" part of the new lot underway that has many upset. Blau agreed, their walk to their spots would be longer, but not significantly. Many feel as if they are being pushed further aside by courts that won't always be in use – especially in the winter months. 

Marks wondered about their future usage at all.

"Between 8 am and 10 am weekdays, when hundreds of folks are searching for parking, the sight of that empty acre of recreational space will be very irritating," he said. "It already is."

Debbra Stolarik August 14, 2012 at 04:57 PM
After eight years as a non-resident, full-year "parker," I just paid $685 for a six-month pass - I am recently unemployed and still trying to find a job, so I did not pay the full year and opted for the "much more than the sum of its parts" half-year. Imagine the surprise of coming in the first week and seeing a huge part of the parking lot fenced off - the following comments by those in control are simply not true: 1. It is not a small part of the parking lot. 2. It is not true that there are often many open spots and that a good portion remains unused. 3. It is not true that the walk will not be much longer. 4. Non-residents are already limited in parking choices. Note that It is $268 per month for the rail pass, $3-5 a day for tolls depending on which EZ Pass plan one has, and another $1,100-1,370 for parking depending on the parking plan. As anyone who has done the trip knows, the TZ Bus does not make connection easy, so that is a fourth lie the folks controlling this tell. WHY are efforts to use mass transit in this region constantly frustrated?
Kevin Zawacki August 15, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Debbra, many thanks for sharing. Your input has piqued a lot of interest west of the Hudson, where many commuters reside. Any interest in penning a more in-depth letter to the editor? Best, Kevin
Debbra Stolarik August 17, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Hi Kevin - if it's not too late, I would like to do that. I was away for two days. Please let me know and also if there is any particular point of interest. Thank you for making me feel like someone was interested :)

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