Last weekend, with very little fanfare, a new code enforcement officer began writing tickets for cars parked illegally in the Village of Greenport.
The village code lists 38 different locations where parking is restricted. The regulations are relatively confusing and perhaps more convoluted than they need to be.
In some prime parking areas, along much of Front and Main streets, the town code restricts parking to a maximum of two hours. In many other places, like the south end of Main Street, the limit is 30 minutes. In just three locations, 60 minutes is the max.
A code enforcement officer is welcome news for Greenport residents who are tired of driving around on summer weekends in search of a parking spot so they can run a quick errand. But for visitors to the village who hope to eat a meal and do some shopping — as well as some of the merchants who serve these customers — the code is too restrictive.
We tend to side with the latter.
With limited public transportation available to the North Fork, many visitors are forced to come by car. This can create a shortage of available parking spaces during peak times in Greenport, but driving is virtually the only way the people who are most likely to spend an entire day in the village can get there.
Greenport is the type of place you visit to spend a full day. If the village still had parking meters, as it once did, visitors might feed the meters a couple of times as they go about their itinerary. With no meter to feed and the threat of a ticket looming, they currently have to move their cars periodically during a visit of more than two hours.
If the village were serious about driving revenue through parking restrictions it would again look to install meters as it did in 2012 under a proposal that failed in a split vote.
Metered parking would provide more significant built-in revenue and encourage visitors to comply with parking regulations rather than slapping them with a fine when they do not.
Parking meters in the Village of Port Jefferson may not be universally admired, but they have generated significant revenue. The Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association has also looked into a similar system, which officials there hope might eventually generate enough revenue to pay for construction of a downtown parking garage.
Greenport might even want to consider a parking sticker system that would exempt village residents from paying to park in metered spaces downtown.
This seems like a more effective way to address concerns about parking and generate revenue from the existing spaces than having one man walk the village writing tickets.