By Danny Schrafel
Spring has sprung, and with it, so too has a pledge to more strictly enforce Northport Village’s parking regulations.
Mayor George Doll made the announcement during the April 21 village board meeting when he said “stricter enforcement” of metered two-hour spots is coming.
Stricter enforcement will begin once broken meters are replaced and new signs marking the two-hour regulations are installed in the coming weeks.
The efforts will employ the use of two new parking-meter attendants, Doll said.
“We hope that these improvements will help to increase parking availability for your valued customers in the upcoming busy season,” the board wrote in a recent notice to merchants.
While some village merchants argued that parking meters are uninviting to prospective shoppers and steers business elsewhere, others said stricter adherence to the two-hour limit on Main Street is exactly what will keep shoppers coming – by creating more convenient, available parking.
In an April 17 letter to the village board, Northport Chamber of Commerce President Bob Scherer said enforcement will ensure spots are available for Northport shoppers.
“Metered spaces are designed to keep the traffic moving, not as an all-day parking space for those who work downtown,” Scherer writes.
Village officials are urging shop owners, employees and apartment tenants to use the now meter-free Union Place lot and certain spots at the harbor, behind the Ritz Cafe, next to the American Legion on Woodside Avenue and along Scudder Avenue as free, all-day parking.
“I always tell my employees when they start working here – don’t take good, valuable retail spots,” Holly Levis-Dolan, the owner of PetPort near the harbor on Main Street, said.
Levis-Dolan added that a loading zone in front of her store is a legal space for shoppers to stop their cars for 10 minutes to load up heavy or unwieldy merchandise, such as a bag of dog food or a big bouquet of flowers from Hengstenberg’s Florists across the street.
“I really think there’s a ton of parking around here. People like to complain there’s no parking,” she said.
Darin Parker, owner of the Main Street Café, said some businesses on Main Street that rely on quick visits depend heavily on available parking, and if more shop owners and workers don’t get off of Main Street parking, they’ll continue to struggle.
Parker suggested sprinkling a handful of 10-minute parking spots throughout Main Street to cater specifically to those merchants.
“It’s the only thing that’s going to help the pizzeria, the hardware store – so people are able to run in for 10 minutes and get what they need,” she said.