Village of Northport officials are hoping business owners and residents will extend a warm welcome to a new transportation service prepared to roll out next week.
Qwik Ride will be expanding its shuttle service to downtown Northport Oct. 3, offering free pick-up and drop-off from/to area restaurants, stores and businesses. The company is based in Patchogue and launched a second service in Huntington village in late August.
“The Northport Village officials thought this would be great, once they heard that we were operating in Huntington,” Qwik Ride co-owner Daniel Cantelmo said. “ They reached out to us.”
“t’s a good fit because we have a parking problem. We’re going to have to do something in Northport to change what we do with our cars.”
— Tom Kehoe
Tom Kehoe, deputy mayor of Northport village, said he first learned about the service through members of the village’s Business Development Committee. The company offers rides in modified six-passenger golf carts equipped with heat and small television screens to shuttle passengers around busy downtown areas.
“It’s a good fit because we have a parking problem,” Kehoe said. “We’re going to have to do something in Northport to change what we do with our cars.”
The village has retained consultants Old Bethpage-based Level G Associates LLC to perform a paid parking study of Northport, according to Kehoe, which is already underway. Level G Associates has previously performed parking studies for other Suffolk towns including Huntington and Kings Park.
Kehoe said there is a need for the village to be proactive in tackling its parking issues given the proposed development on its horizon. Kevin O`Neill and his business partner, Richard Dolce, both of John W. Engeman Theater, have proposed plans to construct a hotel at 225 Main St. that are moving forward.
“There are people in the area that already can’t access Main Street because it’s too congested with traffic,” said Jim Izzo, vice president of Northport Chamber of Commerce. “This seems to be a viable alternative.”
Izzo, owner of Cow Harbor Realty, said he hopes that Qwik Ride can be part of the village’s multipronged approach to solving traffic congestion. He would like to see village business employees park further from Main Street to open up more spaces for clients and customers, leaving spots that will turn over at a faster pace.
“There are people in the area that already can’t access Main Street because it’s too congested with traffic. This seems to be a viable alternative.”
— Jim Izzo
“It would be a big deal to get a lot of the parking spots freed up,” Izzo said.
The chamber’s vice president acknowledged that O`Neill already offers a valet parking system to assist theatergoers and help reduced Main Street backup.
“He’s been trying to solve the problem on his own,” Izzo said. “As a collective, we have a real chance of making a difference, not just a Band-Aid. If everyone got on board, it would behoove everyone.”
Qwik Ride gave a presentation to Northport chamber members at its Sept. 25 meeting. The company will start with two vehicles offering services via an app in the approximate geographic area from Napper Tandy’s on Route 25A/Fort Salonga north to James Street, then from Laurel Avenue west to the waterfront. The service area will be somewhat limited as Qwik Ride uses electric vehicles and given Northport’s hilly
“Parking is a serious situation that doesn’t get better by ignoring it,” Izzo said. “Some things are going to work and some things will fail miserably. If we don’t take a shot, we’ll never know.”