QUESTIONNAIRE--E HARTSDALE PARKING PROBLEMS...WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
In recent weeks some residents of E Hartsdale Ave have contacted me expressing concern about the lack of overnight parking. The demographics of E Hartsdale Ave are changing -more young families are moving in and they have more cars.
A suggestion was made for the town to try to acquire land near the four corners and to build a new parking structure. We could also reach out to developers and ask if they would be willing to build a new structure at or near the 4 corners. A condition of approval would be for residents of E Hartsdale Ave to have access to the parking during overnight hours and during weekends. Or, to try to come up with other options. Purchasing land and building a new structure will cost significant dollars and before we proceed - I'd like to get a better idea of the extent of the problem.
I would appreciate it if you would drop me a note highlighting the personal experiences you have had with overnight parking on the avenue. If you live on E Hartsdale Ave please respond to the following questionnaire and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Town Board will be discussing this problem with Stephanie Kavourias, head of the parking district (whose detailed explanation of parking authority responsibilities and concerns is posted below. The parking authority is independent of the town but we hope to work cooperatively with the authority to address this concern.
( )Yes ( ) No I have experienced overnight parking problems where I live.
Is this a seasonal problem or a year long problem?
Where do you park your car when you have a problem?
Have you been ticketed?
Do some of your neighbors also have parking related problems?
Do you think the town should acquire more land for parking--even if it resulted in higher taxes (a parking structure is expensive--could cost more than $20 million to build)?
Another option: to reach out to developers and to see if a public/private initiative could take place. They could build a building on the 4 corners --and create parking that would be available to residents of E Hartsdale Ave during evening/weekend hours. This would be much less costly and would help address the problem.
Do you have any other suggestions?
A MESSAGE FROM THE HEAD OF THE HARTSDALE PARKING DISTRICT--STEPHANIE KAVOURIAS
There are a lot of misconceptions about the HPPD and why it was created and who it was meant to serve. It was created to provide daily commuter parking for the train and metered parking in support of the local business communities. The properties were deeded by private land owners to be developed for very specific and intended uses. Commercial land owners and Conrail (now Metro North) deeded the properties to the district so that parking could be created for those uses without being a tax liability to everyone Townwide - it was created to be solely user supported thus not a taxing entity.
Unfortunately, there were no properties deeded to the district in the residential area of the avenue for use by the local residents. Very few buildings in the residential area can provide enough parking for their residents. I don't believe any property was even banked for future development of parking by those property owners.
We became involved in offering overnight parking and a limited amount of 24-hour parking to avenue residents back in the late 1980's when the problem began with a shortage of parking for avenue residents, particularly during the winter when overnight parking is not permitted on the street. We did so and continue to do so to the degree that it does not impact the intended use of our properties thereby violating the restrictions we have to live with. Changing the legislation that created the district does not change the uses of the properties, they run with the land, not the owners of the land. Up until about 5 years ago the winter overnight parking was not an issue because our business district was mostly service and retail which meant all but maybe 3 or 4 stores were open past 6PM - there was no conflict with the businesses during the late night hours. With nearly 70% of the storefronts now being restaurants and food related businesses, the regular business hours extend through 10 or 11PM with one restaurant announcing extended hours to midnight and others considering the same. That put us in a bad position last year as we offered an unlimited amount of overnight parking which impacted the businesses. Their dinner patrons couldn't find parking and our permit holders couldn't find parking. We had no choice but to limit the number of permits in Site A as Site A has restrictions that require the majority of the parking in the garage be for shopper parking during regular business hours. Business hours have changed drastically. We challenged this and we lost. The grantor of the property is not inclined to change the restrictions as they didn't deed the property to be used for long term parking by the avenue residents.
Whether the HPPD owns and operates the properties or the Town were to attempt to take over, the restrictions would be the same. The legislation has nothing to do with the demographics we are experiencing today. It was a public/private partnership that spoke to providing a service to be subsidized by user fees, not taxes. Properties were deeded by private owners and developed by the HPPD with user fees. The fees were and still are received in return for services directly related to the intended use of the properties.
If you look at the proposed Comprehensive Master Plan the Town is presently working on, you will see that it speaks at great length to public and private partnerships to alleviate tax burdens on citizens who may not use specific services and therefore shouldn't pay for them.
Little has been done to expand parking for the residents of the avenue. I have been talking about the lack of parking for that use for over 20 years. Not one square foot of our properties were intended for that use, including Site C which was meant to support bus commutation to the city and parking for the local 4-corner businesses (I'll explain more about this further on). Local realtors and building owners were made aware of the limitations on our parking services more than 15 years ago. Prospective buyers and renters are still being told that ample public parking is available yet that has not been true for nearly 20 years. There was a wait list for Site A and Site C 24 permits when I first started working here 23 years ago. Unfortunately most people take realtors and landlords at their word and then come to find they have no where to park. We are made out to be the bad guys and take the brunt of the complaints yet that type of parking is not and has never been the responsibility of the HPPD. We provide it to the degree that we are able to but there is no possible way for us to meet the entire demand and it doesn't seem likely that any property can or will be deeded to us for that type of development.
Site C has changed drastically over the years. 20 years ago 50% of the lot was used as a park and ride for bus commutation to the city and the balance was for Site C permits (24 hour permits for avenue residents) and for the local businesses. The meter revenue at that time was nearly $1,000 per week (at 25 cents per hour). As bus ridership declined, the number of permits we offer increased. The permit fee is drastically reduced from the daily meter fees. In 2007 we increased the meter fee to 50 cents per hour to try and compensate and keep the balance for the permit holders. Today it just isn't possible. We're lucky if we generate $450 a week in meter fees as most of the lot is sold out to avenue permit holders who pay 22% of the actual daily meter fees. We're not trying to balance dollar for dollar the permit fees to meter fees, if we did we could just have the lot operate on 24 hour meters which was the original intent when it was deeded to the district. We're trying to balance costs to revenue. So naturally as the revenue from meters declines, the fees for the permits have to increase in order for us to make sure we don't continue to lose money operating the lot which has been the case for more than 5 years now, particularly the last 3 years due to the high cost of snow removal and maintenance, insurance, etc. That's on top of improvements to the lot made nearly 15 years ago at a cost of $300,000 and other improvements since then.
Yes, the Town has options and it should be in the form of public private partnerships with no need to involve the HPPD. I've made suggestions to for the Town to create a tax improvement district so that all of the multi-family buildings pay into the development of parking for their specific use. There are properties in and around the 4-corners that could be acquired by the Town and the private land owners to build a multi-story parking garage. The special tax district would reimburse the Town over the long term and would also support ongoing maintenance of the properties either by the Town, the private owners or both.
In the short term, we have tried reaching out to some of the property owners near the 4-corners to see if they would rent space to overnighters during the winter months - I've had no success with this so far. I've also suggested experimenting with allowing overnight parking during the winter months on the side (secondary) streets, e.g. Wilson, Columbia, Jane, Alexander, etc.) with alternate side parking regulations to facilitate snow plowing and street cleaning. This has been the case up on Fieldstone Dr. in Hartsdale and on Rockledge Road where it seems to work. They have the same problem as us, too many cars and not enough off-street parking.
I hope this explains some of the intricacies of the district. We're doing the best we can with the properties and resources we have. We operate solely on meter and permit revenue. We are not tax subsidized and we do not receive parking violation income. We are constantly investigating and implementing cost saving measures to try and hold the line on expenses.
The lack of parking for the avenue residents is not due to a lack of trying on our behalf. We challenged the restrictions in some of our deeds and we lost. When Site F was built it was built with a foundation to support an additional 3 parking levels (an additional 150 spaces). Rockledge House (177 EHA) sued the district and won. We considered building a garage at Site C. Unfortunately there is an easement for the 48" County sewer line that runs down the middle of the lot which prohibits the construction of any permanent structures. The Town's own restrictions on watercourses and wetlands would also come into play as there is a brook that runs under and adjacent to the property. And again, if there were a way to build a garage the question is who would pay for it. The average cost to construct a garage parking space is $50,000 to $60,000 (that was 5 years ago). We're talking about $15,000,000 to $20,000,000 for a 300 car garage which would have to be subsidized with bond issues which have to be paid out over a 25 year maximum. The annual payout would be more than a $1,000,000 - that's $3,333 per year per space (or permit) just to cover the financing. That is why it would make more sense to create a tax improvement district to have it paid out over a longer period of time by the private property owners who will have use of the facility.