By CHRIS EBERHART
Parking will become scarce in Bronxville as the Kensington Road condominium project gets underway, but the village’s mayor and Board of Trustees are looking into ways to remedy the situation.
Once construction of the 54-unit condo begins, which is scheduled to start as early as June 15, 179 parking spaces in the Lower Kensington lot, which comprises 12 percent of the entire 1,479 spots in the village, will be inaccessible during the 24-to-27-month period of construction.
The loss of parking will displace residents, commuters and merchants, making parking in the village as difficult as city commuters trying to find a seat on the subway during rush hour.
“It’s going to be tough because all those people in the lot are going to be displaced,” Peggy Conway, Bronxville’s deputy treasurer who has taken a lead role in village parking issues, said. “But it’s going to have a great ending with a beautiful, underground parking lot with 300 parking spaces.”
The 300 parking spaces Conway referenced are part of Bronxville’s Kensington Road contract with Greenwich-based developer Fareri Associates to build an underground parking garage in addition to the condos.
Of the 300 parking spots, 200 will be owned by the village, but the parking displacement in the interim while construction is going on is the issue at hand for Bronxville.
Conway said the village’s first priority is making sure the 78 residents who rent reserved, 24-hour parking spaces have a place to park that will still be close to their homes, and the village is turning to the state for help.
New York State law does not allow municipalities to limit parking on public streets to residents only, but does allow for municipalities to apply for hardship relief through the state Legislature, which would allow the municipalities to do just that.
Garth Road in Eastchester is an example of an area that reserves public streets for residents, but, unlike Garth Road, Bronxville is applying for a temporary parking hardship, which would only be in place during construction.
The proposed law was brought before the state Senate and Assembly by Democratic legislators George Latimer, of Rye, and Amy Paulin, of Scarsdale, respectively.
The bill has to go through committees in both houses and then to the floor of each house for a final vote.
While Andrew Buder, Paulin’s legislative aide, couldn’t predict a timeline, he foresees the bill passing.
Once the bill passes in Albany, it comes back to Bronxville, where the village Board of Trustees will host an open meeting to discuss the new law and allow for public comment. This will be done prior to the board voting on any resolution to pass the law.
Replacing those 179 lost spots in the village is one challenge; replacing the revenue those spots create is a second challenge.
According to Robert Fels, Bronxville’s treasurer, the loss of the 179 spots is equivalent to a loss of $242,000 in annual revenue due to missed permit fees and parking meters. That number shrinks to an estimated loss of $139,000 in revenue when revenue from the 78 residents, which would be given street parking if the bill passes, is taken into account.
During the March 19 Bronxville Board of Trustees budget meeting, suggestions about how to recover the loss of revenue and find parking for the merchants and commuters was tossed around the table.
One suggestion was to lower the parking permit fees for merchants that park in the Garden Avenue lot from $1,200 to $900 per year to match what merchants are paying for the Kensington lot. The thought was to try to encourage merchants to park in the Garden Avenue lot.
As the Garden Avenue parking lot is currently situated, 70 spaces are reserved for merchants and approximately 70 spaces for the public. There was also a suggestion to study the lot to see if the village can re-designate some of the public spaces to merchant spaces.
By lowering the Garden Avenue permit fee for merchants, the village would be able to make up for some of the lost $139,000 in revenue, which is a projection that assumes the village will not make any money from merchant parking.
As for commuters displaced by the Kensington Road construction, the suggestion is to move them to the Kraft Avenue parking lot, which typically has vacant spots.
Congestion and parking will become an increasingly difficult situation to navigate through in the coming months, in which the village will deal with five other projects either underway, about to begin or in the works.
Lawrence Hospital is in the process of building a $34 million addition to its facility; a $5.5 million village-wide flood mitigation project starts this year; the Bronxville School auditorium construction work is underway and there is a plan to turn 100 Pondfield Road, currently a four-story moving and storage building, into a renovated apartment building. That project will be sent to the village Planning Board in a couple of months.
All of this work will bring increased traffic and a need for parking.
In terms of Kensington Road, Conway said the contractor will be responsible for finding parking for the construction vehicles and workers, which will eventually require overflow parking. Conway said the village will help the developer as much as they can, but the burden is on the developer to find parking.
Mayor Mary Marvin, a Republican, could not be reached for comment as of press time.