By ASHLEY HELMS
Findings from the Mayor’s Ad Hoc Committee on Parking, Parking Facilities and Programs, spearheaded by Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, suggest an automated parking garage could be on the horizon for the village.
The village has submitted a request for proposal for a formal parking study and, according to committee documents, the mayor has requested that the information gathered by his ad hoc committee be made available to all parties interviewed for the RFP and be a source of reference and consideration to the ultimate awardee.
Included in the ad hoc committee’s documents was information from two automated garage contractors as well as plans for possible development in specific locations from the Metro North train station to Harbor Island Park including the Spencer municipal lot, the Mount Pleasant lot and waterfront retail near Harbor Island Park. Rosenblum serves as chairman of the ad hoc
The parking study is intended to provide data on how many available spots exist in the village and how long they are occupied so village government can strategize on how best to provide parking opportunities in the village.
Critics, including Trustee Leon Potok, a Democrat, said the ad hoc committee never met in public and that there are no minutes from its meetings. But Rosenblum said that the meetings were, in fact, public and accessible.
“Saying that they weren’t public is a disservice,” Rosenblum said. “When you have others on the board who try to interject their own personal values, it is disingenuous at best.”
Rosenblum said he has discussed the need for additional parking for four years and the parking study is being conducted because it’s the next logical step in the process. Certain individuals, the mayor said, have tried to kill the idea of additional parking all together.
“I have one objective and it’s the overall health, vitality and welfare of the village,” Rosenblum said.
Although he favors the parking study now, Rosenblum has, in the past, favored the construction of a multi-tiered, mechanized parking structure behind the CVS on Mamaroneck Avenue.
Potok said that last year, the mayor raised the notion of an automated garage to the Board of Trustees and indicated the ad hoc committee suggested it. Within the committee’s just-released documents, Potok said he didn’t see any analysis of how the construction of the garage would be funded or if the village even needs the structure at all.
“It looks like the committee started with the conclusion that we needed a garage and identified possible places to build it. I didn’t see an analysis of the alternatives,” Potok said.
According to the committee’s documents as obtained by The Mamaroneck Review, there was no analysis of other parking options for the village or how an automated garage would serve the needs of the village, how much it would cost to be built or what it would look like if it was built.
Though the responders to the RFP will be supplied with information pertaining to the automated garage, Potok said the materials don’t delve into exactly how many extra parking spaces are needed, how many hours per week those spaces would be in the highest demand, or how much drivers would be charged to park their cars in the automated garage.
“The key takeaway is that the mayor came in with a study where his committee concluded that we needed a garage,” Potok said. “They worked backwards from there with the assumption we’d build it.”
Rosenblum said the village is going to complete the parking study and that his request to supply RFP responders with the committee’s findings are nothing more than helping to finish the parking study.
“Potok has his own agenda like raising the [parking] hours to 9:00 p.m. and adding meters for several hundreds of dollars; it’s counterproductive,” Rosenblum said.
Last year, the volunteer Budget Committee, while Potok was chairman, recommended the village install multi-space parking meters along Mamaroneck Avenue. Potok said this would not only give the village a much better idea of how the existing spaces are being used, it would help determine whether an automated garage is necessary.
Former Trustee John Hofstetter, a Democrat, was a member of the board when the possibility of an automated garage was discussed in 2012. He said any such structure will not be a direct benefit to the village.
“We are going to build a parking structure to help restaurants that collect sales taxes that don’t go directly into the village,” Hofstetter said.
Because it is not a city, the Village of Mamaroneck’s sales tax is cycled through the county first with the village receiving a portion of what’s collected.
Regarding plans to construct new businesses throughout the downtown area, Hofstetter took an equally dim view. He said the village needs services that the residents use and that building up the business district will actually hurt taxpayers in the end. Restaurants could be lining Mamaroneck Avenue generating millions of dollars, but the money must go through the county first, he said.
“[The mayor] is 10 years behind in his thinking,” Hofstetter said. “You need a downtown area that provides goods and services that are good for the people of Mamaroneck.”
Rosenblum said that the ad hoc committee, which is made up of people from various career backgrounds, suggested the village look into a parking structure as well as retail space extending down the business district.
“It’s an idea to look at,” he said.