NORTHSALEM, N.Y.--When a parking meter is in working order, commuters are attentive to the amount they’re required to feed it. When the meter is broken, however, do commuters consider the cost to the municipality it benefits? According to North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas, just one week without a parking meter can mean a substantial drop in revenue.
The Croton Falls station, located on Front Street, was equipped with a parking meter two years ago in one of the hamlet’s two rear parking lots. It has made a “big difference in the amount of money we bring in,” Lucas said.
About 60 spots are metered in one lot and 128 spots are available to those with permits in the adjacent parking lot, Lucas said. The cost of the parking meter and the installation cost about $20,000, Lucas said, adding that it has “basically” paid for itself.
According to the MTA, Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem Line, one of three lines that run East of the Hudson River, served 27,720,718 commuters in 2016. While the MTA did not provide such data for each stop along the route, at least as many people as cars that line Route 202 and fill the almost 200 spots in the parking lots make the 47-mile trip from the Croton Falls train station to Grand Central Terminal daily. For those who drive themselves to the station, it is necessary to pay a parking fee.
Currently, residents can purchase an annual parking permit for $350 a year. Non-residents pay $800. Daily parking is $5 a day in the metered back lot. Those who park longer than the posted limit in Croton Falls are subject to a $30 fine, which is enforced by the North Salem Police Department during regular business hours.
Roughly $160,000 in parking funds were generated last year, Lucas said, through the sale of permits, daily passes and revenue from violation fines.
When the parking meter was busted for one week, the town lost $6,000 in revenue.
On Aug. 8, the Town Board voted to renew the town’s annual agreement with Integrated Technical Systems to maintain the meter. It is the third year it has contracted with the firm for this service. The arrangement costs $1,544 for one year, which as Lucas pointed out is covered by the meter’s revenue in less than a week.
Lucas added that the town has considered the addition of another meter, which would soften the blow if one malfunctioned, but there are no concrete plans to do so at this time.
Earlier this year, a new category of fees was implemented to accommodate residents and business owners who struggled with the limited parking closest to the quaint station’s platform.
“Everyone was parking in the two-hour spots and moving around all day, and then the spots were full,” Lucas said. “We don’t like ticketing people just because they have no place to park and they work there.”
Previously employees of the hamlet were being charged the same $350 parking fee as residents. However, Lucas said, for a business owner with four or five employees, the cost was creating a burden. In May the Town Board created the new category of rates for business owners, residents and workers of the hamlet. As of July 1, they began being charged $100 for a permit annually, which encourages them to park in the back lot, Lucas said, and frees up spaces near storefronts.
Lucas said it would also reduce the number of cars that are being parked in the business district illegally overnight, which are typically not ticketed.