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Community Board 11’s transportation committee has approved a plan to change meters along Bayside’s Bell Boulevard shopping district, but some board members say they are opposed to the measure.
A lack of parking spots and aggressive ticketing by traffic agents have long plagued the commercial strip. But the Bayside Business Improvement District is pushing an initiative that would give drivers more time between feeding meters.
The board’s committee voted in favor of the plan, which will now go before the full board in September.
“An extension from one to two hours would be more beneficial to patrons, so they will not get tickets when they frequent a restaurant,” CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said. “They won’t have to rush through their meal. It’s more conducive to a commercial strip and, on side streets, there are already two-hour meters. This would make Bell Boulevard more in sync with rest of the area.”
But some CB 11 members said they were against the proposal.
“It is counterproductive and will harm most of the businesses,” said board member Frank Skala, who is president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association. “Most of them don’t need two hours. There are a few elitist establishments, some restaurants and realtors, who want it. But if you look down Bell Boulevard, there are about 300 stores, most of which are mom and pop stores. Most people get in and get out. If you have two-hour meters, it will create a net loss of spaces.”
Skala said the board had previously voted down a measure to extend time limits on Bell Boulevard’s meters.
Some meters along the strip changed from 30- to 20-minute time limits last fall. Community leaders complained that residents would not visit the street’s row of restaurants if they believed they would be ticketed.
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), said he formerly owned a restaurant/bar, Bridget’s Well, on the boulevard, so he understands the need for longer meters.
“It’s tough to leave your dinner to feed the meters,” he said. “So, I think this would enable restaurants to have a better business atmosphere. Given the number of restaurants we have, I think we need to have two-hour meters.”
Iannece said the community has long struggled to find a way to improve parking along Bell Boulevard, where parking tickets are readily handed out.
“The overzealous enforcement is economic discrimination,” he said. “This is an affluent area, so the city knows people will pay their tickets. It’s another form of making revenue, a tax. There’s no grace period. The idea is that a two-hour meter would allow people to give themselves a little more of a buffer.”
The city’s Transportation Department would make the final decision on the matter following the board’s vote this fall.
The Bayside Business Improvement District could not be reached for comment.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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