A boat on a trailer, taking up more than two spaces, was stored in the Sag Harbor long-term parking lot on Bridge Street recently. Photo by Ken O’Donnell.
By Stephen J. Kotz
As summer approaches, parking spaces in Sag Harbor Village become about as esay to find as an affordable rental. Cars wait for spaces to open on Main Street, forcing traffic to back up for a block or more. Or they circle various municipal lots in a futile search for an opening, while traffic control officers, their chalk sticks and ticket books at the ready, wait.
Sag Harbor Village Trustee Robby Stein, whose office looks out from above the Yoga Shanti over the main municipal lot behind Meadow and Bridge streets, said about two years ago, he began ruminating on ways to increase the number of parking spaces in the limited area available in the business district.
Recently, he joined forces with Trustee Ken O’Donnell to examine whether the long-term lot, sometimes called the Gas Ball lot, could be turned over to a private parking company that would post an attendant there and try to maximize parking by charging a $5 fee for 24-hour parking.
“If we’re not aware of it today, everyone will be aware of it in two weeks when the kids get out of school that the village has a parking problem,” Mr. O’Donnell said this week.
Mr. Stein said the two trustees spoke to Advance Parking, which manages parking lots and runs event parking, and it suggested leaving one row of the gas ball lot for resident 24-hour parking and allowing it to “stack” cars into spaces as a way to maximize the number of cars that could be fit in.
Mr. Stein said the company thinks it could squeeze another 40 to 60 vehicles into the lot, and because it would turn over $1 for every $5 it earns, the village could earn “several thousands of dollars a week” at the peak season.
“I pass the gas ball every day on my way to work,” said Mr. O’Donnell, and it is not being properly used.” He reported seeing an RV parked in the lot for months last winter, and more recently photographed a boat on a trailer that had been left there.
But the plan, which the trustees brought before the village board on June 10, received a lukewarm reception at best, with Mayor Brian Gilbride saying the village would have to write up an official request for proposals before it could even begin thinking about implementing the idea.
Then, he said, it would have to clear the idea with National Grid, which leases the property for a pittance to the village on a year-to-year basis.
Nada Barry, a regular at board meetings and an owner of the Wharf Shop toy store on Main Street, said the proposal would cause a nightmare for employees who struggle as it is to find parking.
“I like them thinking out of the box,” she said on Wednesday, “but I don’t think that’s the solution.”
Although the trustees raised the idea of providing village businesses with a set number of parking passes, Ms. Barry said that would not be feasible for a business like hers that has a large staff of part-time employees coming and going.
Besides, she said, she doubted the village would make much money out of the arrangement.
What the village should do, she said, is better spread the gravel and mark the individual spaces in the gas ball lot, which would make it a more efficient use of space.
Mr. Stein said he is not giving up on the idea and was waiting for village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr. to find out from National Grid what it would think of the village turning the lot into a revenue generator.
“It’s just one idea,” he said, adding that “Sag Harbor has always had a parking problem” and he was not ready to throw in the towel.
In the meantime, he said, he would continue to search for ways to maximize parking in the village lot, including the lot outside his window. By rearranging the configuration, to allow separate stalls for small cars and motorcycles, Mr. Stein said he believed another 40 spaces could be found in that lot