Written by Carol Frank Wednesday, 01 May 2013 12:06
In January, the Great Neck Record reported on the confusion of parking spot seekers at the newly designed and renovated parking field on the corner of Grace Avenue and Bond Street. Mayor of the Village of Great Neck Plaza Jean Celender reached out to assure that the plaza officials were aware of the situation and were planning better, bolder markings on the pavement as soon as weather conditions permitted new stripes and arrows to be painted.
And so last Friday, a day full of spring sun, breezes and floating blossoms, we walked the lot with the mayor who explained its improvements and challenges and introduced herself to parking lot patrons questioning them about their parking experience.
The work on the lot and its improvements, new paving, new lighting, landscaping, drip irrigation, sheltered benches, solar-powered meter stations and new curbing cost $400,000.
Mayor Celender said, “When the old meters are ripped out along with the barriers, suddenly, there are no obstacles for people with strollers, walkers or wheelchairs and the whole lot is more easily accessible.” In addition, the removal of the concrete barriers allows cars to pull in further giving more space in the lanes. She added that most of the trees in the lot were saved; only two had to be removed.
We watched the flow of traffic and certainly many drivers have now gotten the hang of the lot. They enter from Bond Street, make the first possible right turn, proceed straight as far as they can go and improve their odds of finding a parking stall by rolling through every lane before exiting on Park Place. New arrows will be painted at the point of entry to encourage drivers to turn right.
If a driver goes straight upon entering the lot, heading toward Jon’s Park, and finds nowhere to park in that first lane, he or she is supposed to exit the lot and start over. And that is where there is a snag. Most people instinctively make the right turn and attempt to find a spot elsewhere. However, there is simply not enough room for two cars to pass each other if one car is making the right turn and another is exiting the lot. The mayor says that there have not been any accidents at this juncture; however, we watched a number of drivers make this maneuver and luckily, sometimes narrowly, avoid another car. Mayor Celender said, “We will do everything possible to make the pavement arrows and warning stripes very visible.” Due to the configuration of the lot, it would be very impractical to actually sink posts for signage at this spot.
There are three meter stations, two on the west end of the lot and one on the east end. And with all of the improvements, Mayor Celender said, “It’s still a bargain to park here...a quarter still gets you one hour...we haven’t raised this rate in recent memory.” Two of the stations accept dollar bills; however, be warned, they do not make change if one intends to park for less than 4 hours.
A few of the patrons, whom the mayor engaged, suggested that meters take credit cards. But Mayor Celender explained that such a system is more expensive to install and operate and “doesn’t make sense for such inexpensive parking rates.” She added, “We have looked into different machines...some do take cards and we thought about having merchants get ‘valued customer’ courtesy cards. But for now, these stations are working and people don’t have to deal with the frustration of broken meters.”
As we meandered around the lot, we took note of someone who, based on his uniform, is an employee of an establishment on Bond Street...and who was obviously feeding the parking station meter. Mayor Celender exclaimed, “Now, that’s a big problem for us! People coming to shop can’t park because employees are using the lot.” She went on to point out that parking permits in the village’s garages end up being cheaper than feeding meters. A quarterly permit costs $90. If an employee works an 8-hour day, five days a week, it costs $120 to use this parking field for three months. And, one slip-up in getting to the parking station in time equals a fine to boot.
The Plaza does allow employees, who work part-time or who carpool, to share a parking sticker affixing it with tape instead of glue.
And to top off the morning’s outing, we asked the burning question: “How do the parking officers know when someone runs out of time...since the parking receipts aren’t required to be shown on the dashboard?” Turns out the system is web-based. Parking officers carry handheld devices that refresh every 20 seconds. They see a grid of the lot with the numbers indicating either red or green for each parking slot.
Ain’t technology grand?
When it works.