YORKTOWN, N.Y. – With apple-picking season in full swing, Whitehill Road near the popular Wilkens Farm is experiencing an uptick in cars parking along the road. The potential safety hazards created by the situation has the Town Board considering a parking ban.
“We cannot have cars parking on Whitehill,” Dave Paganelli, superintendent of the highway department, told the Town Board at its work session on Tuesday, Oct. 13. “It’s a two-lane road and when you have 10 to 12 cars parked there, you’ve got basically 200-and-something feet where [only] one car can come through.”
The parking situation is at its worst on the weekends. On a recent Sunday tour of the neighborhood, Paganelli said, he noticed a dozen or so cars parked on Whitehill, 97 cars parked on Mark Road and a few dozen others parked on nearby roads.
“All in all, I counted 137 cars that were [parked] on our roads, which is fine,” Paganelli said. He said he does not wish to cause harm to Wilkens Farm, which has been forced to reduce its parking capacity because of COVID-19-related restrictions.
“Anyone can park on our roads,” he added. “But Whitehill is a major safety issue.”
Police Chief Robert Noble concurred, saying any ban should be permanent rather than seasonal.
“It’s a narrow country road with turns and hills,” Noble said. “I don’t think it’s a wise place for anybody to park their vehicle [along it] at any time.”
Town Supervisor Matt Slater said one resident in the Whitehill Road area has capitalized on the farm’s popularity by opening up their backyard and charging for parking. The enterprise is nonprofit, Slater said, with proceeds being donated to Feeding Westchester.
Cars also may soon be banned from parking on a stretch of Commerce Street between Hanover Street and routes 35 and 118. The police chief said parked cars create sight-line issues for motorists exiting businesses. The Yorktown Heights Volunteer Fire Department also has a firehouse on Commerce Street.
“I think it’s a lot safer if you don’t have cars lined up anywhere on that road,” Noble said. “There is plenty of parking to be had in the area, and I don’t see the need to compromise people’s safety and have parking along Commerce Street.”
The town’s traffic safety officer, Robert Rohr, said parking at the BP gas station also has been an issue. The gas station has an auto repair shop component and cars are sometimes parked on Commerce Street until space in the shop becomes available. Rohr said he is trying to help the store’s owner find an alternative location to park the cars.
“When people are pulling out of BP, they can’t see around those parked cars,” Rohr said. “We’re trying to work together to get the job done.”
The Town Board offered no objections to the suggested bans. Slater then authorized the town’s counsel to draw up drafts of laws designating the two roads no-parking zones. The proposed laws would be considered after a public hearing.