STORY AND PHOTOS BY JANIE ROSMAN
Determined to prevent an anticipated barrage of non-resident cars on village streets when the new bridge’s walking and bicycle path opens, South Nyack officials presented several solutions, including help from a smart phone.
“This is a long way from happening and it’s not in cement,” Mayor Bonnie Christian told the packed firehouse meeting room Tuesday night.
She was referring to a parking app that electronically monitors where nonresidents park and for how long, and integrates with police license plate readers to see if a parked car belongs to a resident or to a visitor and if the occupied spot is paid for or not.
What began as a casual study to see who was parking on village streets and why became a race to protect South Nyack from the state’s largest design-build infrastructure project. “The residents are concerned about parking issues arising from the new bridge and shared use path, and the parking committee researched several programs, including Parkmobile,” Christian said.
Three years earlier (fall 2014), the newly-formed parking committee—Trustee Nancy Willen, Police Chief Brent Newbury, Kendol Leader and Bruce Forrester—began noting drivers park in South Nyack and go to other destinations. Specifically, the number of vehicles (230 per day) parked increased during street fairs and other events in Nyack.
On more than one occasion, Leader and Forrester counted on foot “easy 1,500 cars parked in South Nyack for the Nyack street fair, and sometimes up to 2,100 cars,” Willen said. Factor in the Thruway Authority’s 2014 parking demand study for the new path that concluded 59 percent of the 473 peak-hour visitors (within a 15-mile radius in Westchester and Rockland) will arrive by car.
South Nyack is also bracing for the Lower Hudson Transit Link—that will stop within Interchange 10 (South Franklin Extension) in South Nyack and at Artopee Way in Nyack—that will replace Tappan ZEExpress next November. The committee anticipates the buses’ new features like signal priorities and ramp metering will attract riders.
“We don’t know how many people are going to take the bus,” Willen said. Factor in visitors to Pavion Nyack apartments, which allow a certain number of spots per unit. “How are we going to handle all of these cars?”
Because the village didn’t want meters or kiosks, “we (parking committee) looked into different companies. We researched all the different towns and villages in this area and we found many municipalities use parking apps,” Willen said. “You use your cell phone and call in for a parking space and pay for it remotely.”
Non-residents and occasional visitors, and those without the app, can call a toll-free number and pay via credit card. Metro North Railroad stations including Irvington (Westchester County) and Nanuet implement the pay-by-phone system; up to five cars can be attached to one account.
Other village parking options included two-hour limitation and resident permits via radio frequency identification (RFID) like the E-ZPass system, where a reader recognizes the tag on a car and communicates with an electronic toll reader at booths or the new bridge’s overhead gantries.
The cost of updating the Parkmobile (or other vendor’s) app daily with vehicle information would be offset by non-resident parking fees grossed by the village.
Based upon loose calculations, when such a program is implemented, South Nyack could annually gross between $450,000 and $665,000 revenue for daily parking during an eight-hour business day. For special events parking like the Nyack Street Fair, depending upon per-hour charges, the village could annually gross between $100,000 and $265,000.
“The meeting and residents’ responses were positive,” Christian said. Moving forward, the board will discuss the parking app option and hasn’t determined which company will provide the service if/when the idea is approved.
Note: While shared path users can park for free in the 54-spot lot on Thruway Authority property, there will be a time limit for use. South Nyack’s decision does not affect this area.