Parking and consolidation occupied the biggest chunks of the Mamaroneck Town Board’s agenda on Wednesday, July 8. Following the meeting, the board announced that the long-awaited opening of the Myrtle Avenue parking deck will occur on Monday, July 20. (UPDATE: See photo below.)
Washington Square Parking District Bill Moves to Governor’s Desk
The board began with the good news: both houses of the New York State Legislature have passed a “home rule” bill authorizing Mamaroneck Town to create a special parking district for the Washington Square neighborhood. The bill now requires approval by the governor, and if it passes that hurdle, the Town Board must hold public hearings and pass its own parking legislation that sets out the rules and fees for the new parking district. (See: TOM Parking District Bill Advances. and TOM Parking Plan Sparks Controversy)
Parking Deck – Now Ready
Town Administrator Steve Altieri thanked residents for waiting patiently as rains were continuing to delay completion of the Myrtle Boulevard parking deck. Following the meeting, the weather cooperated and workers were able to complete the last step: application of a “membrane” on the deck’s upper level. And on Monday, July 20 Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe presided over the official opening of the deck.
Westchester County Legislator Judy Myers credited the board for its “brilliance” in getting the multi-million dollar deck developed without taxpayer funds: Forest City Residential, which won approval in 2006 to build an 8-story apartment building on the same block, had agreed to pay for the deck. (See: FCD Apartment Gets Board Approval) The estimated cost, in 2006, was over $3 million.
Councilwoman Nancy Seligson called the new facility “probably the most beautiful parking deck in America,” and gave a nod to the Architectural Review Board (BAR) for helping ensure that result. Owners of the businesses and apartments across Myrtle Boulevard lauded their new view and noted that the deck hides both I-95 and the train tracks.
Town residents may apply for a parking permit to use the deck through the clerk however, there is a waiting list. Current permit holders include many residents who had been waiting for many years to get a spot in the small lot that has been replaced by the two-level deck.
“Towing” Law Approved
What if illegal parking makes it hard for permit holders to find spots in the new deck? The board’s response is a new law that allows the supervisor to contract with one or more companies to tow, impound and store vehicles that are improperly parked in lots or on streets in the Town of Mamaroneck.
The law requires a reasonable fee structure, to be decided in the future, for retrieving a towed car. Presumably, police would also be reasonable in applying the law, said Town Attorney William Maker. For example, an officer would probably ring the doorbell and ask that a car be moved before towing in front of a private residence.
Councilwoman Phyllis Wittner said she was happy to see “teeth put into the law.”
Public Hearings on “No Parking” Zone and Knox Boxes: August 12
The board will be considering a ban on parking along the east side of Maxwell Avenue, the sole access road for large vehicles entering and leaving the Town Yard. There would be a thirty minute “loading zone” to permit unloading merchandise for the stores in the adjacent shopping center. Parking would be available in the shopping center lot and on Madison Avenue and Myrtle Boulevard.
The board will also consider a law to allow for the installation of Knox boxes on multi-unit buildings. These secure boxes hold keys to each of the apartments or offices in the building. With a master key to the Knox boxes, the fire department would have access to the unit keys and be able to mount a speedier response to a fire.
After announcing the appointment of Councilman David Fishman and resident Maureen LeBlanc as the Town’s representatives to the newly formed tri-municipal consolidation study group, Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe reported on a recent meeting that took talk of consolidation beyond the town border.
The gathering, hosted by Mamaroneck Mayor Kathy Savolt, brought together supervisors of Mamaroneck and Rye with mayors from the villages within the two towns: Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Port Chester and Rye Brook.
The far-ranging agenda covered the possibility of sharing services – not just with these neighboring communities but with county and state government as well. Other topics were: unfunded mandates, the property tax burden, and possible consolidations of various towns, villages and school districts.
The twin motivations for the meeting were the difficult economy and a proposal by Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin to eliminate his government. The dissolution, just a concept at this point, would impact Mamaroneck Village, which falls 60% in Mamaroneck Town and 40% in Rye Town. Depending on how the dissolution played out, there could be wider impacts in Mamaroneck Town – and possible opportunities for further mergers or cost sharing.
Supervisor O’Keeffe said she came away from this discussion of the financial, practical and historical components of consolidation and shared services with “a feeling that the Town is in pretty good shape” and we’re “lucky to have such good management.”
Councilwoman Wittner commented on the emotional aspects of proposed changes. For example, those studying consolidation would need to consider expectations of families selecting a community based on the reputation of its schools district. She thought if any change was accomplished, it would be in “small bites.”
Officials from Mamaroneck and Rye will meet again in a few weeks for further discussion and to determine whether to file for a local government efficiency grant from New York State by the September 23 deadline.