Thursday, September 10, 2009

Park Smart Public Meeting

Last night, neighbors and merchants gathered at a public meeting hosted by the New York City Department of Transportation(DOT) to discuss the initial results of the Park Smart program and to lay out the agency's plan for the remaining 3 months of the pilot program.

The Park Smart program started in May in an effort to increase the availability of metered spaces at peak times along a test portion of 5th and 7th Avenues. By raising the meter rates from $.50 to $1.50 per hour between Noon and 4PM, DOT found that:

* Overall space availability increased between April (before the Park Smart program began) to June by 4 percentage points (88% in April to 84% in June)

* 13% of block groups in April averaged at least one available space compared with 25% in June.

Clearly, the increased prices have had an effect on parking congestion in the test blocks. However, merchants who attended the meeting painted a different picture:

* Many customers are coming into stores and restaurants, asking for quarters for the meters

* Customers are expressing shock and frustration at the higher rates. At some point, these rates may be high enough to scare customers away, if they have not already.

* The test results average findings along 5th and 7th Avenues. These two avenues are very different: people do more quick shopping runs on 7th and longer shopping/browsing trips on 5th.

DOT noted that the results had differed along the two avenues with 5th Avenue seeing a bigger "benefit" from the higher rates.

Next Steps:

DOT is considering another meter rate increase, in order to gain more open parking spaces in the test area. In addition, another full study of space availability will take place in November, along with a merchant and resident survey.

So, what's your opinion? Frustrated with the higher meter rates? Glad the rates are going up so that you can park along 5th and 7th Avenues? Let us know in the comments, below.

Even better, if you are not happy with the rates, please don't share your opinion with the area's merchants, CALL 311. DOT is measuring the number of complaints that the Park Smart program is logging through 311 and so far, they haven't heard a single complaint. If you want to have your voice heard on this issue, call!

Stay tuned to All About Fifth for more details, in the near future.

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