Two- hour parking meters wanted beyond Third and Fifth Avenues

Now that merchants on Third and Fifth Avenue are celebrating the news that parking meters along the two strips will be extended to two hours, businesspeople along the other shopping thoroughfares in southwestern Brooklyn want the same treatment.

To that end, Congressmember Michael Grimm, State Senator Marty Golden, and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis gathered with merchant leaders on Fifth Avenue on Thursday February 23, to make their case.

“These two-hours meters might not seem like much to someone who isn’t paying attention,” noted Grimm. “If you want to go to get your eyes checked and it takes 1:15 or 1:30, you may come out to a big summons. That happens to you once or twice and, guess what, you stop going. That’s what happens. That’s what has happened.”

Malliotakis agreed. “This is a crucial step,” she said, because it would “allow customers to shop, use the salon, enjoy a meal at one of our fine restaurants, and generally take care of their everyday business without having to worry about running out to feed the meter.”

How important are they? As soon as the expansion of two-hour metering to Fifth and Third Avenues was announced, Golden said, “My office began receiving emails and Facebook messages asking that two-hour meters be considered for the other avenues. Now we begin that march so that two-hour meters become the norm on all our commercial strips.”

“It’s a quality of life issue,” emphasized Domenico Vaccaro, vice president of the Fort Hamilton Parkway Board of Trade. With a one-hour meter, “Time runs out so fast, you don’t have time to do your shopping.” At his restaurant, he noted, “By the time you get your appetizer, you have to run out to put money in the meter, or your entrée is on the table and you have to run out; by the time you get back, it’s cold. It’s a real nuisance.”

For businesspeople, Vaccaro added, that translates into lost revenue, because people either don’t relax and spend time in your store or restaurant, or else they take their business elsewhere, where the threat of a ticket isn’t hanging over them. “They go to a place that has valet parking or a lot, or they go to Staten Island or New Jersey, because they’d rather pay the toll than pay for a ticket. It comes out cheaper.”

Merchants from 13th Avenue were present at the press conference, even though they currently have two-hour meters, because of concern that when the city switches the strip over to munimeters, they will recalibrate the meters to allow customers to buy only an hour of parking at a time, said Dominick Sarta, the president of the 13th Avenue Merchants Association.

“Doctors, attorneys, dentists, real estate brokers, one hour doesn’t work for them,” Sarta emphasized. Neither does it work for beauty salons and spas, he added, where appointments tend to take an hour to complete. “You wait 10 minutes to start, and when you go back to your car, you have a ticket,” he explained.

The city announced back in January that, in April, it would be installing two-hour meters on Fifth Avenue and the portions of Third Avenue in Bay Ridge that didn’t already have them, in response to a fervent plea by merchants who said that the one-hour meters were driving their business away, the more so after the conversion to munimeters, because it was much more difficult for store staff to feed the meters for customers who couldn’t get to their autos themselves, since they would need car keys to put the receipt on the dashboard.

Additional reporting contributed by Helen Klein.

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