With the room filled to capacity and people standing in the hall, those in attendance at the last BOT [Board of Trustees] meeting to protest newly imposed, exorbitant parking fees were seemingly treated to an exercise in futility. With over 50 letters submitted and pages of signatures on a petition to protest new parking taxes imposed on only certain businesses in our village, it was evident the Board of Trustees had made up their minds.
They ignored pleas from employees at 520 Franklin Ave. (Garden City Medical Center) that it is not safe to cross Franklin Avenue during rush hours. Many workers arrive and leave work when it is dark, and they carry supplies for their offices. This is so unnecessary to risk one’s safety, when a parking lot is adjacent to the building where they work.
Attorneys working at offices on Old Country Road were very vocal in their outrage as well. However, the BOT simply suggests that if you cannot afford the $150 fee per year, or feel it is unjust, simply park somewhere else and walk. You must pay to park even if you work part-time, even if you are not guaranteed a spot in the lot, even if you rented an office in the building 20 years ago with the promise of free parking for you and your employees. Too bad for you. Pay up.
They ignored that fact that as of the last meeting there were only 65 parking permits issued for 520 Franklin Avenue, as opposed to over 300 issued at the same time last year. People just cannot afford it in this economy. The BOT are not applying the “fees” equally to all Garden City businesses. While this may have achieved a benefit to open up parking spaces in the lot, they are spaces that must remain unused, and if you park there without paying the $150 per year fee, you will be ticketed. Unsuspecting patients and visitors to our building, as well as members of St. Joseph’s Church will be ticketed. This is no way to raise money for our village. Garden City loses good will, again. Gains the reputation of being arrogant again, and chalks up another notch in ignoring the wishes of the residents yet again.
To single out only certain businesses for this new tax is wrong. To exempt all of the retail businesses in town from the tax is wrong. To ignore the safety of residents and employees is wrong. To compare the fees commuters on the LIRR pay for parking with employees working here in our village is wrong. Again, it was said that those who park near the railroads have to pay, why shouldn’t we? The members of the BOT who choose to work in the city take revenue out of GC. We keep it here in the village by utilizing other businesses in the village during the course of the day. We even subsidize your rides to Manhattan in the form of the new Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) commuter tax that was recently imposed on small businesses, whether or not we utilize the railroad. How much more unfair can this get! While I do not advocate for the institution of parking fees for retail businesses in the village, I am simply pointing out the injustice with regard to the only two parking lots being targeted. Reconfiguring the lot at Fair Court is not a solution.
The mayor was dismissive in his attitude towards those in attendance, asking where we were when parking was discussed years ago during an “ugly time in our village.” I was there Mr. Rothschild, and to hint at the suggestion that residents would have favored destroying homes to significantly enlarge a parking lot is laughable. Can the BOT ignore the fact that tenants will think of leaving their offices in Garden City when the leases expire? I do hope the BOT takes the words of one of the attorneys working in the buildings serviced by the lot on Fair Court (also chosen for this new tax) to heart. To paraphrase, it costs an attorney only a filing fee and a few hours of personal time to initiate a lawsuit against the village to defend our rights. The cost to the village of simply defending the action will most certainly well exceed the fees the village hopes to gain. Is this really the path our trustees wish to embark upon?
Elizabeth Colantonio, RN