Park Slope drivers can rest easy — a drastic increase in the rates charged by those no-arm bandits is not on the horizon.
Rumors were swirling all month that the city would be hiking the Park Smart meters from the $1.50 to $2.50 during the peak hours of noon to 4 pm — but a Department of Transportation told Community Board 6’s Transportation Committee last Thursday night that it isn’t going to happen.
“Right now, we are not going to change the price,” said Bruce Schaller, a deputy commissioner with the agency.
Schaller had come to the meeting seeking feedback on the Park Smart program, which hiked parking fees last April as part of an effort to reduce traffic and create turnover at parking spots on Fifth Avenue between Sackett and Third streets, and on Seventh Avenue from Lincoln Place to Sixth Street.
But the feedback from the roughly 25 people in attendance was near-unanimous: “Don’t raise the fee!”
“Merchants are suffering,” said Irene Lo Re, the director of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. “I’ve never seen a year as bad as 2009. People change their behavior over a couple of dollars — are you going to completely push us out of business?”
Still, Lo Re had to admit that the numbers did show that Park Smart had improved available parking in the neighborhood, thereby opening spaces for more potential customers.
A study by the city compared parking behavior before the program was implemented and November — and found that people parked for five minutes less on Fifth Avenue and nine minutes less on Seventh Avenue.
One aspect that the committee did agree on was the need for the program to expand to Ninth Street on both Fifth and Seventh avenues, an area where car traffic and foot traffic is concentrated.