Irvington Board Tackles Downtown Parking Regulations

by Barrett Seaman 

parking signs roads road signs no parking handicapIt is said that parking is the third rail of village politics—at least in the rivertowns. Whether it’s space allocation for Metro North commuters or downtown parking for shoppers, there’s never enough of it. Dare to suggest building more lots or, heaven forbid, a multi-story garage, however, and locals will accuse officials of destroying the character of the village—whichever village it is.

And yet, the village board in Irvington is tiptoeing up to the tracks again, by offering the first significant change in parking regulations since the early 90’s. Valiantly leading the effort is Village Administrator Larry Schopfer, whose analysis of current shortcomings is nigh unto irrefutable. At the first open hearing on August 21, however, his solutions set off some sparks (though not lethal ones).

The problem is clear enough. Bordered by Broadway to the east, Metro North and the Hudson River to the west and a series of mostly dead-end residential streets on either side of Main Street, the village has no room to expand. Demand for parking is most heavily concentrated in a two-block stretch from Dutcher to Ferris Streets, an area choc-a-bloc with shops, restaurants and various services. Most visitors want to park there, while other sections, Schopfer concluded, have vacant spaces.

Moreover, noted the administrator in his introduction to the newly proposed rules, “hourly parking limits vary widely and can be one, two, four, or six hours depending on the street.” Partly, that’s because people living on the side streets, many in homes without driveways, need to park for longer stretches, and partly it’s because streets closer to the train attract commuters and Manhattan day-trippers unable or unwilling to park in a permitted space.

And so, after months of analysis, space counting and measuring and kibitzing by board members, here’s what Schopfer proposed before interested citizens of the village:

Main Street – Currently one hour, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; will go to two hours, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Side Streets – currently six hours, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; will go to two hours, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., except North Buckout and North Astor, which will remain at six hours. BUT, residents will be given permits, allowing them to park 8 a.m.-8 p.m., AND no more restrictions on overnight parking.

Aqueduct Parking Lot – currently limited to residents; will allow non-residents as available 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Fieldpoint Lot (east of Broadway) – currently residents only; will grant 10 permits to non-residents during working hours, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.

Residential Parking Districts – village streets will be divided into three districts:

  1. Lower: Astor, Buckout, Cottenet and Main Street between Astor and Dutcher
  2. Middle: Dutcher, Ecker and Main Street between Dutcher and Ferris
  3. Upper: Grinnel, Aqueduct, Dearman, Broadway, Home, Croton Place and Main Street between Ferris and Broadway

Employee Permits – a limited number of permits will be issued to no more than two employees each for Main Street businesses, awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Commercial Vehicles – limited to half-a-ton on side streets.

On a sultry August evening, with the mayor and deputy mayor, as well as Schopfer, absent, a clutch of residents turned out post-eclipse to poke holes in the plan. Those from the designated Lower District questioned the wisdom of extending the six-hour limit to non-residents on streets close to the station. Some argued that day-trippers would crowd out residents. Arthur and Ramona Segreti, who live on North Buckout, asked if day-trippers shouldn’t share the burden by walking a few more blocks to catch a train.

Local trades people expressed doubt that the limit of two spaces for employees would be sufficient. Joe Clark pointed out that he employs 14 in his electrician’s firm, most of them out in the field all day. “Where are they supposed to park?” he asked. Tom Cecere of Ferris Street runs his business out of his one-ton van, which he says has the same dimensions as the half-ton vans that are at the maximally permitted weight under the proposal. Board members readily agreed that they should revise that restriction by basing it on size rather than weight.

No one disputed the characterization of the issue by Astor Street resident Christina Lomolino when she observed: “It’s a very complex problem with lots of competing interests.”

The hearing was held open until September 18, leaving residents more time to kibitz—and Schopfer more time to tinker. Comments and suggestions should be addressed to lschopfer@irvingtonny.gov.

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