By CHRIS EBERHART
Bronxville’s bill to temporarily amend the New York State vehicle and traffic law to allow the village to issue permits to residents to park on public streets passed in both houses of the state Legislature with ease, but parking scarcity concerns from the Kensington Road development still resonate in the village.
The Kensington Road condominium development, which would create a 54-unit condo and 300-space underground garage, is scheduled to begin construction on July 7. The development will destroy a large parking lot in a critical area near private homes, the Bronxville train station and the business district and displace residents and merchants that rely on the lot.
“The question becomes: Where do they go?” Donald Marra, interim village administrator, said.
To answer the question, Bronxville officials have been reshuffling the deck and looking for new parking areas to replace the 179 spaces lost.
“We know this situation with the parking is going to be difficult,” Marra said. “But we’re taking all the steps to remedy it. The village has been coming up with a plan. And we understand, once it’s put into place, it might not be fluent, so we’re open to making changes.”
To accommodate displaced merchants, village officials are offering a discounted annual permit fee to park in the Garden Avenue parking lot. The annual fee would drop from $1,200 to $900.
While storeowners and workers will have the reduced permit parking option in the Garden Avenue lot, customers who typically park in the Kensington lot will have to find elsewhere to park, which is concerning for businesses in the area like Blue Moon Café at 7 Pondfield Road, which is across the street from the project site.
“Parking is already tough to find around here, so losing that parking lot will definitely affect us. It’s going to hurt our business,” Anthony Costa, assistant general manager at Blue Moon Café, said.
Parking constraints will also be a burden on the Christ Church across the street from the Kensington lot.
“Many of our Sunday parishioners park in that lot, and we have a lot of older parishioners,” Rev. Michael Bird of the Christ Church, said. “We have a pre-k with about 120 students, so drop-offs will be affected. But the developer has been very forthcoming and has been working with us so we can create a parking plan.”
Bird said that plan is still being developed.
While business owners and their customers are a concern, the main priority of village officials has been accommodating the displaced 75 residents who rent reserved, 24-hour parking spaces in the Kensington lot without moving them far away from their homes.
The solution is to issue LK—lower Kensington—permits to residents, which would allow them to park on designated public streets. Permit fees would be reduced from $110 per month to $82 per month during construction.
New York State law prohibits a municipality from limiting parking on public streets to residents, but allows the municipality to apply for hardship relief through the state Legislature, which Bronxville did.
The hardship relief was carried as a bill in the Senate by George Latimer, a Rye Democrat, and in the Assembly by Amy Paulin, a Scarsdale Democrat.
The bill had to pass both the Senate and the Assembly, which it did by unanimous votes in both houses on June 10 and June 12, respectively.
The bill must now be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Brian Hegt, spokesperson for Latimer, said the governor typically signs a “chunk of bills” within a couple of weeks following the conclusion of the legislative session, which ends on June 19.
Once it’s finalized at the state level, the bill has to be adopted as a local law by Bronxville’s trustees.
Bronxville began the process of adopting the local law by holding a public hearing during the June 9 Board of Trustees meeting, which remained open so Bronxville officials could continue listening to the concerns of area residents, according to Mayor Mary Marvin, a Republican.
“I think this [Kensington Road] project is so important for the village, but it’s going to be tough for our residents [during construction],” Marvin said. “I think we’ve come up with the best plan that we can, but we’re still listening. If people have ideas how to tweak our plan, we’re open to suggestions.”