Jackson Heights parking problem may get a solution

| aaltman@queenscourier.com |


The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed PARK Smart plan promises to improve parking conditions in Jackson Heights.

Circling the block, searching for a parking spot and scrounging for quarters may become a thing of the past for drivers in Jackson Heights.

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed PARK Smart plan promises to improve parking conditions by increasing time limits, upping prices and altering hours of operation in order to raise turnover rates and quell congestion by encouraging motorists to park no longer than is necessary.

The DOT has installed the PARK Smart program in two other city neighborhoods: Greenwich Village in Manhattan and Park Slope in Brooklyn. In Greenwich Village, street parking runs $5 per hour between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and in Park Slope, parking from noon to 7 p.m. costs $2 per hour. According to the DOT, after the program was implemented in Park Slope, the number of unique vehicles parked street side jumped by 18 percent while parking duration decreased by 20 percent and traffic volume decreased by seven percent. The DOT spokesperson said similar results were recorded in Greenwich Village.

According to the DOT spokesperson, the city agency ended a PARK Smart pilot program on Madison Avenue in Manhattan after a year, due to unique parking demands, adjacent land uses and off-street parking costs.

The increased parking price in Jackson Heights has yet to be determined.

Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership, said his group welcomes the PARK Smart program to the neighborhood and applauds the DOT’s effort to enhance what has become a busy commercial corridor.

“If the program goes as planned, we should see curbside parking spots free up more frequently,” said Taylor. “That means less double parking, quicker travel times for MTA buses, smoother deliveries to our ground floor businesses, and overall a more pleasant shopping experience on 82nd Street.”

Carlos Trujillo, a manager at La Pequeña Colombia Restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue, was confident that the new program is going to boost his business, allowing guests to enjoy a lengthier meal without the stress of a possible ticket looming over their evening.

“The customers are going to be calmer because they don’t have to watch the meter during their meal,” said Trujillo.

He recalled several years back when a quarter bought more time at a meter than just 15 minutes, just as a frazzled motorist ran into the restaurant and hurriedly request change for the meter.

The Community Board is expected to vote on the implementation of the Jackson Heights PARK Smart plan later this fall.