The cost of peak-hour meter parking in Park Slope will go up 33 percent — and the hours that are considered peak could increase under a city plan announced on Thursday night.
The price-hike proposal was met with skepticism by restaurant owners and other Park Slope locals, who said that increasing the cost of parking from $1.50 to $2.25 per hour was too much and would ward off potential customers.
“A rate of $1.50 is the max,” said Irene LoRe, the president of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District and owner of Aunt Suzie’s.
“People change their behavior over a couple of dollars — are you going to completely push us out of business?” Lo Re pleaded a few weeks ago when the rumor of a fare hike first surfaced.
But restaurant owners did call for the hours at muni-meters be extended to help free up spaces for customers going out to dinner.
That twist on the idea didn’t entirely please Bruce Schaller, an official with the Department of Transportation, who countered that the extension of metered parking to 7 pm on Seventh Avenue and to 9 pm on Fifth Avenue would require that the peak fare also be applied, lest residents just keep feeding meters until the meter hours end.
Schaller said that studies conducted in other cities found that an off-peak fare in the evening failed to ward off locals so desperate for a parking space overnight that they were willing to fork out money until the metered parking was no longer in effect.
Community Board 6 withheld its approval until next month, but it did praise the so-called Park Smart program, which has successfully reduced the length of time that cars are parked, thus increasing the amount of available parking in a neighborhood desperate for spaces.
“There are more spaces, and from merchants’ perspective, there is more access,” said Schaller.
Currently, the Park Smart program is in effect on Fifth Avenue between Sackett and Third streets, and on Seventh Avenue from Lincoln Place to Sixth Street.
The city also told board members that it is planning to expand the Park Smart program to 15th Street on both avenues — a plan that the community board did approve.
©2010 Community News Group
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