By Jade Perez
The Pleasantville Village Board was presented with ideas to address downtown parking demand as the village faces the potential loss of more than 40 parking spaces as a result of the proposed Memorial Plaza redesign.
Last Monday, BFJ Planning partner and transit planner Georges Jacquemart presented the results of a parking occupancy study he recently conducted regarding all on-street and off-street parking in Pleasantville’s downtown. The study took place on Wednesday, Jan. 16, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Jacquemart said. The study was divided into three sub-areas based on proximity to the center of the downtown.
Data revealed that on-street parking near Memorial Plaza, Manville Road and Cooley Street, combined with the Memorial Plaza and Cooley Street permit parking lots, had 85 percent average occupancy, the highest of the three areas during the six-hour period. There was a peak occupancy of 87 percent after noon and 3 p.m.
Parking on Pleasantville Road and Marble Avenue, as well as in the Hopper Street lot and Wheeler Avenue lot, had an average occupancy rate of 67 percent. The Hopper Street lot consists of permit parking and 12-hour meters while the Wheeler Avenue lot is permit-only parking.
Of the 330 parking spaces, the sub-area comprised of Washington Avenue, the Rebecca Lane and Village permit lots and the three-hour metered spaces for Manville and Bedford roads saw a 53 percent average occupancy rate.
Overall, downtown parking occupancy averaged 67 percent, peaking at 71 percent after 1 p.m. and 72 percent over the following two hours.
However, there were still a minimum of 208 vacant spaces out of 746 available spots in the three areas, Jacquemart said.
“So there is vacant parking,” he said. “I know people don’t see it that way because they tend to go to the center, but the reality is that there is a fair amount of parking spaces, just not where everybody would like to see it.”
To compensate for the likely future elimination of 43 parking spaces should the Memorial Plaza redesign move forward, Jacquemart suggested that the board introduce pricing incentives that will shift some of the demand away from the downtown’s core and toward the surrounding areas that currently have higher vacancies. He said the village should raise permit fees by 10 to 20 percent for the higher occupancy Memorial Plaza, Wheeler Avenue and Cooley Street lots and lower the fees for the Rebecca Lane and Hopper Street lots.
He also noted that after 3 p.m. the occupancy in the three high-demand lots increases because parking is free. As a result, there aren’t many spots available after 5 or 6 p.m. when people come to Pleasantville for dinner.
“Therefore, the village should implement paid hourly parking after 3 p.m. and on Saturdays primarily in those high-occupancy lots to free up parking spaces and create turnover during those time periods,” Jacquemart said.
Other recommendations included changing the under-utilized one-hour parking on Washington Avenue to two- or three-hour parking and shifting free village employee parking from the Memorial Plaza lot to the Rebecca Lane or Hopper Street lots.
Jacquemart said providing parking maps that show the locations of the permit parking and the hourly fees for meters on the village’s website would be helpful for commuters to weight their options.
Although it would lead to an increase in meter fees, Jacquemart said upgrading the parking payment and enforcement system should be explored, including the possibility of pay stations. He also suggested alternate payment methods.
“Whether it’s paying with an app on your cellphone or credit card, these systems tend to be very user-friendly and you don’t have to have a pocket full of quarters,” he said.
While turnout was sparse for last week’s presentation, a few residents commented. Resident Tom Shingler said increasing permit fees to mitigate commuter demand and dissuading the public from parking in the main lots didn’t make sense.
“When you’re trying to push people outside of the core, you’re talking about people that are already commuting an hour on the train, plus getting to the train, plus what they have to do once they get to the city,” Shingler said.
Resident Tom Rooney added that charging more money on meter parking spaces is “ludicrous” and “is not going to help anyone who lives in the village.”
“You take other towns like Briarcliff and Chappaqua, there’s not a parking meter in the town and their downtown (thrives). So maybe we should look at them,” Rooney said.
Discussion regarding parking and the Manville Road and civic space projects will continue next Monday, Feb. 25.