Station Parking: Meters to Stay; Locals Guaranteed 1 Permit

Also: Palmer Avenue Streetscape Project Starting Up at Long Last?

by Judy Silberstein

(September 24, 2008) It was “democracy in action,” said Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld as the Village Board voted on Monday, September 22 to retain the current parking permit system for Lot #3 at the train station, as favored by 80% of respondents to a Larchmont Gazette poll.

Also on the board’s uncharacteristically short agenda was: recognizing two Larchmont firefighters for their role in saving a woman's life; and a vote to advance a slow-moving streetscape enhancement project on Palmer Avenue.

Martyn

Two Larchmont firefighters, Brian Doherty and Tony Martyn, were recognized for reviving a woman who was unconscious and not breathing when they responded to an emergency call at The Harbor House Restaurant on November 16, 2007. All of Larchmont's career firefighters are certified emergency medical technicians, and the two used their training to open the patient's airways and provide artificial respiration until she began breathing on her own. Mr. Martyn, shown with his family, accepted a citation from the Westchester Regional Emergency Medical Services Council on Monday night. The Larchmont Fire Department received a unit citation for its commitment to EMS.

Also at the Board:

Check for Flint Park: Catherine Kortlandt, president of the FLint Park Conservancy, presented the board with a $57K check. To date, the Conservancy has donated close to $200K to support projects, a playground and the waterside environmental area.

Check the Calendar:

  • Sept. 27: MSF Jr. Triathlon
  • Sept. 28: Paine to Pain run to mark the opening of the Colonial Greenway. VOLUNTEEERS STILL NEEDED
  • Oct. 4: Spin-a-thon to benefit juvenile diabetes research
  • Oct. 4: (10AM) Dedication of Flint Park Field
  • Oct. 5. (12:30) Tour de Larchmont
  • Oct 25: (12:30) Rag-a-Muffin Parade
Lot #3
Parking Process & Fees Nailed Down

In less than two weeks, more than 100 residents responded to the parking poll, with the overwhelming majority favoring retention of the current system in which drivers purchase an annual permit and pay a daily rate at the meters in Lot #3, on the New York City-bound side of the train station. (See: Poll: Parking at Station - Keep the Meters or Just Use Permits?) Half of the respondents left comments and an additional 20 emailed the board directly, most of them voicing support for a meter approach.

A number of respondents identified themselves as “casual users” of the lot, who would have lost out if the meters were scrapped in favor of a “permit only” system. “To have meters allows part-time commuters a benefit that makes living in our little town a pleasure,” wrote “Morgan” in a comment that expressed a common sentiment. “Jane” voiced the minority view, calling the meters “a pain in the neck” because they “constantly malfunction.”

The board agreed to keep the meters, but implemented a number of changes designed to improve the process and raise some additional revenue to fund the eventual purchase of new meters.

Apply: For the 2009 parking season, all Larchmont Village, Mamaroneck Town and Mamaroneck Village residents will be assured an opportunity to purchase at least one Lot #3 permit per household -- as long as they act before December 31. Applications may be made in person or by mail, beginning in November on a date to be announced shortly. Previously, there was a limit on Mamaroneck permits.

Wait List: The Village clerk will keep a waiting list for individuals requesting a second permit for their households. After January 1, the Village will monitor the lot to see if there are sufficient open spaces to go to the waiting list.

Out-of-towners: (mostly from New Rochelle) will still have to scramble to secure one of the 100 permits allotted for them. These permits will be sold on a first-come first served basis beginning in November.

The grand total of permits sold last year was 1029, reported Eileen Finn, the Village clerk. Although there are only 300 spots in the lot, on a typical work day there are a number of open spaces, according to Trustee Richard Ward, who has been conducting informal surveys of parking lot and bike rack use.

The new process will eliminate the dash to Village Hall and long lines that Mamaroneck permit seekers endured under last year’s system – except for out-of-towners.

Permit Fees Mostly Stable: The cost of Lot #3 permits for local residents will remain the same as last year: $50 for Larchmont Village residents; $100 for Town of Mamaroneck and Village of Mamaroneck residents. Out-of-towners will pay $500 (up $50 from last year).

“We all recognize the economy is not what it was a year ago,” said the mayor.

Meter Fees Up: However, the cost to feed the meter will go up from $3.00 to $4.00 for a day of parking.

The additional dollars will go into a capital fund for a future replacement of the machines with newer models. The board will be relying on Larchmont’s Department of Public Works to keep the current machines functioning for at least another year.

Lot #1: None of this applies to Lot #1, on the Stamford-bound side of the train tracks. That lot is reserved for Larchmont Village residents and will continue to run on a “permit-only” basis with a maximum of 300 permits sold, one to a household, first-come first-served. Applications will be taken by mail or in person, beginning in November. The annual fee will remain at $550.

Once the permits become available, application forms will be posted on the Larchmont Village website.

Palmer Avenue Streetscape Project Starting Up at Long Last?

On Monday night, the board voted to authorize $89,000 in spending on a preliminary engineering study for new sidewalks, landscaping and other improvements to the Palmer Avenue Business District - a project awarded a $683,704 federal grant almost two years ago. (See: Larchmont to Get $683K for Palmer Avenue Renovations.)

The grant, administered through the NY State Department of Transportation (DOT), targets the blocks around the trains station, which on Palmer stretches from Depot Way to West Avenue. “We haven’t had a chance to talk about what else we want to do,” said Mayor Feld, but the board has hoped to extend improvements farther along Palmer towards New Rochelle.

The ultimate plans will coordinate with a separate project that will completely renovate the Palmer Avenue roadway that runs through Larchmont Village. That renovation precedes a hand-off from Westchester to Larchmont for future maintenance of the road, as agreed to by the board last year when they accepted terms of the $2.55 million Legacy grant to fund improvements in Flint Park. (See: VOL Accepts Bids, Approves County Agreement on Flint Park.)

As noted by Trustee Anne McAndrews in her regular updates on the subject, implementation of projects funded with federal and state grants can be exceedingly slow. She has been communicating with the granting agency and only this month got word that Larchmont can start making specific plans.

“At long last, we’re in a position to begin putting out some proposals for planning,” said Ms. McAndrews. The grant imposes a design deadline of before November 2009. The work must be complete before November 2011.

“I‘d love to get it done much sooner – hopefully by next summer,” she said. But when she suggested this timetable to the DOT, “they gasped.”

The spending authorized on Monday night will be bonded as part of a larger bond issue to be discussed in the near future, said the mayor. The $89,000 will count as part of Larchmont’s required share of the project, a total of $170,000. The combination of local and federal funding amounts to a budget of at least $854,000 for improvements.

How much, if any, additional sums Larchmont can afford to expend on upgrading the Palmer Avenue business district will be a topic of board discussion in the coming months.