Parking in Park Slope got much pricier this week — but it also could get a bit easier.
In hopes of freeing up parking spaces on traffic-clogged Fifth and Seventh avenues, the city jacked up peak-hour rates on parking meters as part of a six-month pilot program that began on Monday.
Workers have recalibrated parking meters to match the citywide base rate of $.75 per hour (up from the previous rate of $.50 per hour), and implemented a prime-time fee of $1.50 per hour between noon and 4 pm every Monday through Saturday.
Proponents told The Brooklyn Paper that the higher fees will stop drivers who park on Fifth Avenue between Sackett and Third streets, and Seventh Avenue between Lincoln Place and Sixth Street from lollygagging — making it easier to find spaces on the thruways and potentially bringing more customers to neighborhood shops.
“It will improve parking conditions by making more spaces available and creating more turnover,” said Dalila Hall, a planner with the Department of Transportation.
Hall added that the so-called “Park Smart” approach could “lessen double-parking” and “improve the overall feeling of the streets” — but some Park Slope merchants said they’d back the project only if it frees up additional parking spaces.
“People park on the street all day long, it’s ridiculous,” said Mitch Szpicek of Little Things Toy Store on Seventh Avenue between Carroll Street and Garfield Place.
“I’m for it, because it might get rid of people who are hogging parking spots.”
Transit expert Michael Cairl touted the program not only because of its possible impact on parking, but also because of the extensive traffic statistics that community groups will receive after the six-month study.
“The data that we will get will be a great benefit for the community,” he noted.
Most everyone in Park Slope agrees that something must be done to free up parking spaces in a neighborhood where researchers once found that 45 percent of the drivers clogging Seventh Avenue were simply looking for a place to park.
But some shop owners doubt that the so-called “congestion pricing” for meters will curb the parking problem.
“It won’t change anything,” said Jaleesa Soloano, manager of Cousin John’s Café on Seventh Avenue between Lincoln and Berkeley places. “A lot of my customers complain that they can’t find parking, but they will come either way.”
— with Evan Gardner