MAHOPAC, N.Y.— As any Mahopac resident who likes to patronize the businesses along South Lake Boulevard (Route 6N) knows, parking there can be a challenge.
The Town Board is hoping to remedy the issue and has hired a parking consulting firm to study the problem and make recommendations as to the best place to construct a parking facility and how it should be managed.
The board has hired Walker Parking Consultants, the largest firm in the world that specializes solely in parking issues, to advise it and help develop a plan.
“Ten years ago…I noticed there were a lot of issues with the downtown parking,” said Councilman Jonathan Schneider, who is serving as liaison between the board and its parking consultant. “In a lot of service organizations, [parking] was something that was addressed over and over again. I sat on the board for the Chamber of Commerce and we addressed it as a concern. [The chamber] worked with the town about seven years ago to try and identify some properties but nothing came to fruition. I think it is time now we really try and look at how to provide parking in the downtown hamlet of Mahopac.”
Schneider said that he consulted with several engineering firms about the parking issue and they all told him to work with a company that specializes in that field.
“It was Walker Parking that came in with the lowest price on the [consulting] proposal,” he said.
The cost of the project is not to exceed $24,000.
Dr. Carolyn Krasnow, vice president of Walker Parking Consultants’ New York office, gave the board a presentation at its meeting last week, saying she would divide the company’s scope of services on the parking project into three sections.
“The first section is how can you add to your parking system. You are looking for off-street parking opportunities. You need to figure out what makes the most sense,” she said. “The first thing to look at is different opportunities to develop surface parking and [decide] which ones make sense from a layout perspective.
“[We look at] what is good from the perspective of circulation and getting in from the street as well as what’s good for pedestrians who need to be able to get to places from there,” she added. “We are going to look at up to five sites, depending on how many [the town] identifies as having potential. We will then give you our opinion on what we think are the two best sites that are worth pursuing.”
Once that is accomplished, Krasnow said her company will provide a layout for how the lot will operate—ingress and egress, where equipment can be placed if the lot is paid parking and meters or some other kind of revenue-control system are needed.
“[The layout] will look at how you are going to accommodate ADA-accessible parking, which is a requirement and important in any community,” she said. “[It will also include] electric vehicle charging and whatever other parameters that need to be put into the lot.”
Krasnow said that whoever does the town’s civil engineering would be charged with the construction documents, while her company would create a striping and equipment plans.
The second part of Walker’s proposal will focus on the operation of the lot.
“Once you’ve chosen a site, the next part of our proposal is to help you think through questions related to management and operation of a parking system—paid parking, time limits, and parking for residents and employees who need long-term parking,” she said. “There are a lot of ways to do this—many permutations. Paid systems are very good. Many think of it as just a way to haul in revenue, but really the first parking meter was designed to create turnover.”
The third part of the proposal will deal be a financial analysis of the parking plan.
“It’s too early to do one; we don’t have all the data yet,” Krasnow said. “But it will look at what revenue we think you will generate versus the cost of operating [the parking system].”
Supervisor Ken Schmitt said the area is in dire need of more parking and that the business community supports the plan.
“We desperately need municipal parking in downtown Mahopac,” he said. “There isn’t any town-owned property that we can use for municipal parking for those looking to patronize the merchants there. We need to keep the flow going—allow people to come and shop and be able to provide them a place to park.
“One of the main complaints that I have gotten over the years is the issue of parking,” he continued. “There is just not enough and it has actually gotten worse. [The problem] has grown in the past 10 years because there are more cars—there’s more traffic, more pedestrians. Our objective is to find additional parking, look for solutions. I know the Chamber of Commerce would love to see additional parking there. We are excited about this; it’s something we’d like to get moving on.”