By David Luces
In response to the Town of Huntington proposed legislation to change the town’s traffic code, residents voiced their concerns and displeasure of the possible stricter penalties and its potential ramifications at a public hearing at Town Hall March 5.
The proposed amendments would increase fines for violations, enhance enforcement and help collect on parking violations. These changes are part of the town’s approaches to alleviate parking issues in Huntington.
Engineer and Huntington resident Daniel Karpen took exception to the changes, saying it would bar residents from obtaining town-issued permits until parking tickets are cleared up.
“I don’t know why one has to deal with the other — why would you want to penalize people who want to take their child to the beach but have to deal with a ticket when they couldn’t find a place to park,” Karpen said. “This is mean to the public.”
Part of the parking changes would also include a requirement that parking summons and tickets be answered within 30 days or face an imposed default judgment, the nonrenewal of their New York State motor vehicle registration and possible immobilization.
Karpen cited the reason residents are getting fined is because there is a shortage of parking spaces in Huntington. He said a year ago he came to a town board meeting asking for more small car parking lots in the area.
“I liked to know what progress has been made to put small car parking lots in downtown Huntington,” he told the town board.
Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) responded that the town has eyed several locations for additional parking areas and mentioned they are awaiting the final results of the $16,000 study of a proposed parking garage, which was approved in October, 2018.
“We do believe stronger enforcement will encourage a change in driver behavior and end the abuse of time limits for free parking, both of which we expect to have a positive impact on the parking experience in downtown Huntington,” Lupinacci said.
Currently, the fine for not paying for parking in one of the town’s metered spaces comes out to $25. If Lupinacci’s proposed changes are approved the charge would increase to $75. If an individual is caught without a permit in a handicapped spot, the charge would increase from a flat fine of $200 up to a maximum of $600.
Paul Warburgh, who has been a parking violation volunteer for the town for over five years, said under the resolutions the town would do away with the volunteers, and their duties would be taken over by the town’s uniform public safety officers.
“The volunteers are on duty seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Warburgh said. “I’m on duty at the Stop & Shop at 8:30 in the morning witnessing fire lane and handicapped violations.”
He acknowledged the need for some changes to be made to the volunteer program, but it didn’t mean the town should get rid of it and asked the board to reconsider the proposal.
“Are we going to get a uniformed officer there at that time, or at the post office at night when people decide to pull into the handicapped parking spaces because they feel like they’re entitled to do so?,” Warburgh said. “We are the enforcement — we provide a public service and we try to do our best.”
Jeff Bartels, of Lloyd Harbor, brought up the issue of handicapped parking within the town.
“Who is getting some of these handicapped permits?,” he asked. “I mean I see these construction trucks [parked] — the guy is doing constructing and has a handicapped tag on his mirror. How can you be handicapped and be a contractor — that doesn’t really fit.”
Linked with the proposed changes is also an amnesty program. The town will be offering a one-time 40 percent discount on the balance of an unpaid parking fine through April 1 as it tries to deal with residents owing more than $1.8 million in about 4,700 unpaid parking summonses and penalties.