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After initial success of parklets, village officials weigh long-term balance between parking and open space

With the installation of parklets in downtown Greenport this summer — a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic — residents got a glimpse at what a more walkable village could look like.

But the proposal came at the cost of sacrificing premium parking spots along Front and Main streets in order to increase outdoor public space.

“Parking will continue to be a problem going forward,” Village Trustee Julia Robins said during a work session on the ongoing issue Thursday night.

While village officials are considering a plan to extend the use of parklets through Thanksgiving and beyond, it’s unclear if they will become part of post-pandemic life.

Either way, Ms. Robins is urging the board to take the issue up and consider the use of metered spots and parking kiosks in areas such as the lot on Adams Street.

She also called for a review of current policies that allow payments in lieu of parking and businesses being ‘grandfathered’ from meeting parking requirements.

“We need to adapt code to the reality of what Greenport is today,” Ms. Robins said.

The idea was met with support from other board members like Peter Clarke, who said the issue of parking goes hand in hand with longer range planning in the village.

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips agreed. “I don’t want to look like downtown Riverhead,” she said. “We have to have a vision.”

As Mayor George Hubbard Jr. sees it, there are two viable options for addressing the parking problems in the village: the costly route of constructing a parking garage or directing people to lots located farther away on Moores Lane.

Officials pointed out that the municipal parking lot near the LIRR station is often empty, even during peak visiting times, since many people don’t want to walk far distances.

“People just don’t like leaving their cars and going somewhere else,” he said. “It’s just the reality.”

He called for investing into improvements to the firemen’s track to make the area more appealing as a parking option for visitors by installing street lights, repaving the track and marking out lines. “The track is in beat up condition,” he said, acknowledging that people may be hesitant to park there currently due to potholes and a lack of lighting at night.

The mayor also said that with other attractions, like the skate park and plans to bring back the miniature railroad, parking could make sense in that area.

“Let’s make that whole area more usable, more visitor friendly,” Mr. Hubbard said. “The only way to do that is for us to take the lead on that.”