With a new chairman in the person of Deputy Mayor Nicholas Mastorelli and the addition of new board members Jose Ortega and Maryury Bombino, the trio, along with remaining members Carmen Lia and Rolando Cribeiro have promulgated some ambitious undertakings in dealing with parking problems in the city. In addition, the board appointed Mateo Perez, Esq. to be the new board attorney.
In September, they established new residential parking zones in response to requests from the community, who reported that commuters and out-of-towners were eating up parking in residential neighborhoods. The new zone covers about 12 blocks between 35th and 48th streets and basically from Park Avenue to Palisade Avenue. That helped ease the parking shortage considerably.
Next, the Authority continues to update the city's meter infrastructure under a four-year capital improvement plan to replace the old mechanical parking meters with the new tamper-proof electronic models. That program should be completed this summer when the last of approximately 1,800 meters will have been replaced.
Two major policy changes came as a result of a request from Mayor Brian Stack. One is the opening of the Parking Authority on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and noon to accommodate residents and anyone else who might have a problem with parking tickets or who might want to avail themselves of the Authority's other services such as resident parking permits. Also, the Authority has rotated their meetings so as to provide an occasional night meeting for convenience of residents. The other policy change was the decision to lower the rates in its surface parking lots to 25 cents for an entire hour in place of the former price of 25 cents for a half-hour. In addition, the mayor and board prevailed upon PSE&G to upgrade the lighting in seven of the eight lots to create better illumination and visibility to provide better safety.
As a means of increasing inter-agency cooperation, the Parking Authority has held a series of meetings with representatives of the city's Urban Enterprise Zone Advisory Board to address conditions in the retail commercial areas of the community, including Bergenline and Summit Avenues. A recent agreement between the two resulted in a plan to purchase decorative sleeves for the parking meter poles along Bergenline Avenue. The two agencies will share the cost of approximately 560 sleeves. Mastorelli anticipates that the Authority and UEZ Board will embark on future joint ventures to make the city's business districts more attractive to shoppers.
"The feedback from the many steps we have taken to improve parking, upgrade our shopping areas and respond to requests from the public have been very positive," Mastorelli says, "and we are currently looking into the possibility of establishing more resident parking zones and the feasibility of doing a traffic study. The important thing is that we are responding to the public's needs as best we can and implementing the Mayor's policy of putting the citizens first."