By ASHLEY HELMS
The Village of Mamaroneck has selected two firms to conduct studies of the community’s parking woes. One of the studies would focus on parking needs, and the other space needs.
International parking consulting and design firm Walker Parking Consultants has been contracted to perform a parking needs study for roughly $35,000. Lothrop Associates, an architecture firm based in White Plains, has been hired for approximately $24,000 to assess the village’s space needs.
However, Assistant Village Manager Daniel Sarnoff said fees paid to Walker Parking Consultants will most likely exceed $35,000 due to the village asking the firm to consider surveys and input from key stakeholders in order to give a more in-depth approach to how the village can provide the best parking alternatives.
“We asked them to include more than what was included on the original RFP [request for proposals],” Sarnoff said.
Because of the nature of the RFPs, the village was able to select the best firm to do the work rather than being required to choose the lowest bidder.
This is a continuation of an ongoing controversy over possible parking solutions for the village, with members of the Board of Trustees at odds over how best to provide additional parking, if, in fact, more parking is required.
Trustee Leon Potok, a Democrat, has said he supports installing multi-space parking meters, which he said would result in data similar to what the parking study will provide.
Conversely, Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, has suggested village parking would be best remedied by the construction of an automated parking garage.
The parking studies are intended to provide data on how many available spots exist primarily in the village’s business district and how long they are occupied so village officials can strategize on how to provide parking opportunities.
Ted Rallis, 54, said that, because of all the restaurants on Mamaroneck Avenue, the infrastructure can’t handle the volume of people, especially on weekends.
“Maybe [the village] should have thought of that before they allowed all these new restaurants to open,” he said.
Rallis suggested the village turn some of its permit-only parking areas into metered spaces in order to give residents and visitors enough parking opportunities. He said he has heard of the possibility of building an automated garage, but said village government should make sure that revenue brought in from any proposed parking structure will exceed the amount of money that was spent to build it.
“It comes down to a return of investment,” Rallis said.
In late September, findings from the Mayor’s Ad Hoc Committee on Parking, Parking Facilities and Programs suggested an automated parking garage would be best for the village. According to committee documents, the mayor requested the information gathered by his ad hoc committee be made available to all parties interviewed for the parking needs study.
For the space needs study, Sarnoff said that Lothrop Associates will look at all of the village’s departments and determine how many parking spaces are needed for the village to run effectively. The study should run for the next two or three months.
The assistant village manager said the Walker firm will look at drivers’ parking habits and take suggestions from key stakeholders into account when conducting the study, which is expected to conclude in early 2014.
“There’s no pre-determined outcome,” Sarnoff said. “They’re coming into the village with fresh eyes.”
Despite the overwhelming call for more parking, some visitors said parking may not be as trying an issue as some believe.
Debra Engelman, 50, a New Rochelle resident, said she visits Mamaroneck Avenue several times a week and has never had trouble finding a parking space, but could understand why residents who live above local restaurants would have a hard time. She said, at most, she has waited 10 minutes for a spot to open up.
Engelman suggested the village turn one of the parking lots behind Mamaroneck Avenue into long-term parking for residents.
“There’s always plenty of parking, even when they have a festival going on,” she said. “But I’m okay with walking half a block or being patient.”