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Greenport Village eyes taking over ferry parking lots

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The Long Island Railroad parking lots near the North Ferry dock in Greenport are free to use and do not feature any time restrictions.

But that could soon change under a proposal Greenport Village Trustees have approved and sent to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for consideration.

If the plan were enacted, the village would take over several MTA-owned parking lots, including the one currently leased by North Ferry, and would develop a schedule of parking fees and time restrictions, along with a plan for having the MTA repave and improve the lots. The lot just north of the Railroad Museum of Long Island would not be affected.

The plan would create long-term parking lots on two vacant parcels near the railroad tracks, on the west side of Fourth Street. Parking in these lots would be available to Greenport residents for free, for up to 72 hours on one and up to 14 hours on the other.

Three other lots — one just north of the ferry dock, one at the southwest corner of Wiggins and Third streets, and one that runs along the north edge of the LIRR platform — would become pay-as-you-go parking for the general public for up to 24 hours. The same would be true for the MTA lot that’s currently used by Hampton Jitney.

The MTA would have to approve the plan in order for it to go anywhere, and Suffolk County’s representative on the MTA board said in an interview Monday that it will receive consideration.

“This is what the village wants and we will do our best to try and figure out how to make it happen,” said MTA board member Mitch Pally. “There’s no guarantee it’s going to happen. We’ll let the professionals at the MTA comment on how to do that. But will it be seriously considered? The answer is yes.”

There are many MTA parking lots that charge a fee, Mr. Pally said.

Village Trustee Doug Roberts devised the plan and says it could not only generate revenue for the village but could help the MTA and Hampton Jitney as well.

“The MTA’s main requirement of us as tenants would be to continue paying the MTA $2,500 per month, which is the amount of their current lease to the ferry company,” Mr. Roberts said.

Currently, some people leave their cars in the Greenport lots and go to Shelter Island, Mr. Roberts said.

“We need to turn this into a place that serves the people of Greenport,” he said. “The key is that we start charging to park in that lot.”

Mr. Roberts estimates the plan could net the village about $100,000 per year in parking fees, offset by about $30,000 in enforcement costs.

The Hampton Jitney, which uses the MTA lot rent-free, would be asked to invest about $60,000 to install new parking kiosks where  people could pay parking fees by credit card. In exchange, the Jitney would get 30 percent revenue sharing from the village. The proposal calls for the MTA to pave four of the lots and install drainage, and for the Jitney to pave the other.

Officials from Hampton Jitney could not be reached for comment this week.

The plan calls for North Ferry’s lease of the ferry dock with the MTA to be terminated so the village could then take over that lease, and pay the same monthly rent to the MTA that North Ferry does now.

Stella Lagudis, general manager of the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Association, which owns North Ferry, declined to comment on the proposal but said the organization has been discussing it with the village.

Mr. Roberts envisions that money made from parking fees and fines could offset the cost of repairing heavily trafficked village roads.

The Village Board recently asked village attorney Joe Prokop to research the possibility of adding a $1 per car charge to any vehicles exiting the ferry onto village roads.

As of its Jan. 21 meeting, however, Mr. Prokop said he is still researching that question -— and whether such a proposal would even be legal.

Resident Mike Osinski said at the Jan. 21 meeting that ferry traffic reduces property values for residents on nearby Wiggins Street.

“Those people suffer,” he said, urging the village to collect a fee from ferry traffic.

Resident John Saladino said he’s “loving the idea” for the MTA property, but added, “I don’t think it will ever come to pass.”

The Village Board did approve a resolution last Thursday “approving the development of a proposal for the creation of a paid municipal parking lot, with the intention of future partnering with the Hampton Jitney and the Metropolitan Transit Authority for the paid municipal parking lot.”

The vote was 4-0, with Trustee Julia Robins absent.