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Hi-Tech Parking Remains a Headache in Dobbs Ferry

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June 24, 2023

By Jeff Wilson–

Time expired on Dobbs Ferry’s conventional parking meters on May 1, when the Village’s entire parking system went hi-tech. There are now eight payment stations or kiosks scattered around town accepting cash and credit cards. The other option is Parkmobile, Dobbs’ new app that offers drivers three different “contactless” ways to pay for parking – now required until 8 PM – on their smartphones. Parking time is recorded through the vehicle’s license plate number, which can be read on a device used by enforcement officers who check vehicles for valid parking times.

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Change is always unsettling, but eventually, folks adapt. Yet many in Dobbs Ferry are still unhappy with the new system, none more than Jean Greenberg, co-owner of Affordables, a children’s and maternity consignment shop that has operated at the lower end of Main Street for decades. In an interview, Greenberg described many of her out-of-town customers’ difficulties using an app, further complicated by unreliable cell service in the area. Consequently, many refuse to come back to Dobbs Ferry to shop.

 “Since this whole thing started, our business has just plummeted,” she lamented. “We’ve cut expenses to the bone. Even though we’re open six days a week, I can’t pay the rent. We might have to close by the end of the summer.”

Last year when the village eliminated metered parking, it had planned to use an app-only system, which Greenberg immediately opposed. “You’re going to exclude a lot of people that don’t want to put an app in their phone,” she said. Her letter-writing campaign to village officials paid off, and they hired a parking consultant, Rita Azrelyant of Laybel Consulting, and temporarily instituted free parking. The Village eventually added five kiosks to the three they already had. (Laybel recommended ten.)

Yet this hurts Greenberg still further: the nearest kiosk – the only payment method many of her customers would consider using – is located way up the street from Affordables, and on the opposite side. Walking at a senior’s pace, it’s almost a five-minute walk round-trip, not including the time needed to make a payment transaction.

“If you have a kid in a stroller or if you’re elderly and you want to come in and buy something for your grandchildren, do you really want to go up to the library and then come back?” Greenberg asked rhetorically. “And the way the street is configured you can’t even see that there’s a kiosk up the road.” She insists that the only thing that can save her shop from bankruptcy would be a more accessible kiosk.

Greenberg’s complaints have already been laid out in a multitude of posts on the Nextdoor website, going back to last year. Scores of comments by customers and others echoed Greenberg’s sentiments. Judith Kaye from Irvington recounted the kiosk’s failure to process her payment. “More kiosks and stop at 6 [o’clock]!!!!!” posted Dobbs resident Mary Dino.

Next door at Scaperrotta’s Deli, owner Chris Scaperrotta is in the same boat location-wise. “It’s terrible!” he exclaimed about the setup. Scaperrotta also cited the 30-cent service charge Parkmobile collects with every transaction.

Up the street at Reader’s Hardware, reactions were similar. John, a worker at the store, asserted that nobody understands the system and “nobody’s happy” with it either. A customer agreed.

Finally someone voiced an opposing viewpoint. A Dobbs Ferry woman parking her car said the system was “okay.” She puts quarters into the machine, she said, though her husband uses the app.

Nice sign in front of Affordables, but where’s the kiosk?

And where do officials at Village Hall stand? Interim Village Administrator Richard Leins explained in a phone interview that they were forced to get rid of meters because those were antiquated, and the technology needed to power them was no longer available. Upgrading the parking system, he said, is a huge challenge, a work in progress subject to change. “The Board (of Trustees) hears your concerns,” he stated reassuringly. “[Adding] Additional kiosks is definitely on the table.” Leins invited residents to come and make their voices heard at the Board meeting on Tuesday, June 27, at 7:30 PM. (A Zoom option was available, as well.)

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