After facing months of pandemic-related delays, plans to adopt and implement a parking study in New Suffolk are once again in motion.
Town Board members discussed what next steps to take at a work session Tuesday after some residents questioned the timeline of the project.
“There were no public meetings and the report went through numerous changes before it was finally released to the public and the transportation commission in February 2020,” said New Suffolk resident Arlene Castellano during a Nov. 17 board meeting. “The community was supposed to be included in the process.”
Town Supervisor Scott Russell said the report was sent back to the consultants, AKRF, after aspects were deemed insufficient. The board had also been awaiting input from the Transportation Commission, which was set to review the report in March before the pandemic struck.
“The process was delayed no doubt,” Mr. Russell said. “[It] got pushed into the spring and the reality is … everything came to a grinding halt.”
While the contract states that two public input meetings would be held before the report was completed, town engineer Michael Collins said Tuesday that the first public meeting was waived in order for the consultants to begin collecting data immediately in July 2019.
Recommendations outlined in the study include converting the diagonal parking stall on the east side of First Street between King and Main streets to parallel parking. Engineers also suggested erected “commercial vehicle loading zone 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.” signs on the block faces of First Street between King and Main streets “to accommodate commercial delivery needs.” The last major recommendation was that the town hire a parking enforcement agent, at least on a seasonal basis, if and when changes to parking regulations are implemented.
Other ideas include clear signage indicating parking permit regulations, paid beach tags on Town of Southold parking permits so that beach visitors may park their vehicles in both the hamlet center or the beach lot and potentially opening up the vacant lot adjacent to the existing New Suffolk Beach parking lot “to accommodate overflow beach parking demand during busy hours.”
Deputy supervisor Jill Doherty said while the delay is “unfortunate,” it’s time to move forward.
Councilwoman Sarah Nappa, the board liaison to the Transportation Commission, said its members, police chief and planning staff have all reviewed the plan and agreed a public meeting should be set.
That meeting is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. and will feature a presentation by AKRF. A follow-up meeting could be held in January and the board hopes some aspects of the plan can be put in place for the summer of 2021.