Finding parking on the Bell Boulevard commercial strip in Bayside is not for the faint of heart. It is tough.
And after months of collecting data for the Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) parking study, consulting firms VHB and Desman Associates can clearly show how desperate the area is for more parking.
To summarize: from about midday through the night, parking spots on Bell Boulevard and even nearby side streets become filled to near capacity, causing congestion on the commercial strip, presenters said at a BID meeting on Tuesday.
“Nothing that you heard [at the meeting] was surprising,” said Lyle Sclair, the executive director of the BID. “But I think what is valuable is that we are quantifying it. I don’t think people know what a parking desert Bell Boulevard is.”
The BID’s study, which Councilman Paul Vallone allocated $20,000 to fund last year, is looking to find a solution to the parking mess, which is a result of local employees, shoppers, restaurant-goers, commuters looking to catch the LIRR and residents all fighting for spots.
At the meeting, representatives of the firms and BID members didn’t offer any concrete solutions to the problem, but introduced suggestions to residents and business owners and collected feedback for what residents would like to see.
The solutions at this point are theoretical, and broken into two groups: long-term and short-term plans. The short-term plans are cheaper and could be implemented toward the end of the year. They include changing the timing and pricing rate of meters on Bell Boulevard with the Department of Transportation to hasten the turnover rate of drivers, and using valet parking with private businesses that have lot space near Bell Boulevard.
The long-term solutions could take years and will be costly. Possibilities include the creation of a five-level private parking garage with 320 spaces, which could cost more than $15 million, or a mixed-used building with residential units, ground-floor retail and parking, which would run upwards of $40 million.
Some residents in the crowd weren’t too excited about the idea of building a structure or garage near Bell Boulevard, because they felt it wouldn’t deter commuters and employees who don’t live in the neighborhood from looking for free spots on residential streets.
Residents want to free up public parking spaces in front their houses, because some drivers occasionally block their driveways.
“We are going to take into consideration everything with the study that we do. Hopefully we can help that situation,” said BID President Dominick Bruccoleri. “The idea is to implement changes in our district that will help [the business] side not hurt [the residential] side.”
The BID is going to use feedback from the meeting to further discuss solutions. The study is expected to be completed by June.