In a last minute reversal, the Greenport Village Board voted against purchasing parking meters in a special Wednesday meeting.
The vote was 4 to 1 with Mayor David Nyce as the sole supporter of purchasing the meters. The trustees had already voted to bond for the meters in June of 2011 and were expected to authorize the purchase of solar-powered units Wednesday.
During the meeting, sentiment from residents and business owners was united against placing meters on portions of Front Street and Main Street. Village resident John Saladino told the board he was not sure how he felt about the meters. He said if the purpose was strictly to turnover curb space, then he did not think it was a good idea.
“If we were going to use the revenue to help pay down the debt, I might agree to it,” Saladino said.
Perry Angelson, owner of the and The Loft, told the board he had 698 signatures on a petition against the meters. Angelson said 75 percent of the signatures were Greenport residents.
After listening to concerns Nyce summarized the three-year process for the attendees, reminding the audience the merchants originally came to the board to solve the parking problem. He also tried to clear up misconceptions. Of the petition, Nyce said he would sign it too.
“I live here. I don’t want to pay for parking,” Nyce said.
The mayor said the bottom line is that the parking problem needs to be solved in a way where it pays for itself. He said violations alone will not pay for the cost of having a traffic control officer monitor parking.
Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said, from what she heard from the petition and speakers, is that the residents do not want meters but she made it be known the village would have to cut some other service to pay for the traffic control officer. She said she felt the issue was alienating the community rather than bringing it together.
Trustee David Murray questioned if enforcement was not in the village budget, whether or not the Greenport Business Improvement District (BID) could pick up the cost.
Nyce said the BID and the village did not have the money to pay for enforcement. The mayor said he had seen preliminary budget numbers for next year and said the village is not in “great financial shape” either and the village would be cutting services.
“The only solution that funds itself and solves the problem is meters,” Nyce said.
After the vote, a visibly frustrated Nyce stood his ground.
“I stand by the process,” he said.