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Monserrate says Sunday parkers should get break

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Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-Corona) has introduced legislation that would roll back Sunday enforcement of parking meters to give shoppers and churchgoers what he said is a much-needed respite from what he called a "Sunday parking tax.""I will be spreading the word about the repeal of the Sunday parking tax," said Monserrate, who planned to tour local shopping centers and churches to promote the repeal. "I believe that the mayor and this administration are picking the pockets of the city's working people by imposing this additional tax."Some meters are in effect on Sundays while others are not.At a Feb. 17 public hearing, David Woloch, deputy commissioner of external affairs for the city Department of Transportation, testified against the legislation, maintaining that Sunday meter enforcement was needed to create much-needed parking space. Woloch said the DOT had expanded Sunday enforcement over the past two years. But in some areas, the program had been in effect for more than a decade, he said."The purpose of meters, regardless of which day they are in effect, is to turn over parking spaces so that more customers and other individuals can gain access to a particular parking spot in busy commercial areas - helping the motorists, the businesses, other entities and enhancing commercial activity," Woloch said.Shiv Dass, president of the Jackson Heights Merchants' Association, agreed."Suppose the meters are off: The merchants will park the cars and the residents will park their cars and nothing will be left for the customers," Dass said in a telephone interview. "We want Sunday meters to stay. Besides raising money for the city, it's good for the customers."But Vasantrai Gandhi, former president of the merchants' association and chairman of the Jackson Heights-based Community Board 3, said he supports the plan to roll back Sunday meters."Sunday is a holiday and being a holiday it is the biggest shopping day (of the week) and people are scared to come to certain localities not just because there is a meter but because of the penalty the police can give," said Gandhi, who testified at the Feb. 17 hearing. "The shoppers are going to out-of-the-county malls just for one reason: for parking convenience."Monserrate's legislation would affect 7,500 of the 19,500 single-space parking meters the DOT operates in Queens, said agency spokeswoman Kay Sarlin. She said religious organizations can petition the department to replace one-hour meters with two-hour devices to avoid interrupting services.Monserrate said he expected the Council to hold additional hearings before voting on the bill, which would likely face a mayoral veto."This a no-nonsense bill," Monserrate said. "This is a common-sense bill and it's giving New Yorkers a simple break."Reach reporter James DeWeese by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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