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Parking Garage Still on Table for Huntington Village

Huntington Chamber hears findings from transportation consultants.

A parking garage is still on the table for Huntington Village, according to Town representatives.

The news comes off Tuesday's Huntington Chamber of Commerce meeting where Manhattan transportation consultants Nelson-Nygaard updated members on a parking study meant to alleviate parking woes and congestion in downtown Huntington.

"The consultant is pretty certain that he's going to be able to give us some recommendations of how we can make some changes to modify parking behaviors in the short term and advise us if a structure would be called for," said Town of Huntington Community Development Director Joan Cergol.

"At this point, he's told us that there are situations where municipalities can spend a lot of money on a structure and during the week it will be empty. We don't want to see that happen and we want to see what we can do in the here and now to help, and then plan for the structure."

The idea of a parking garage on either the New Street lot or the Elm Street lot has been floated since parking congestion seemed to reach a critical mass around the time of the Paramount Theater's debut on New York Avenue.

The Paramount joined with four other agencies--The Town of Huntington, the Huntington Chamber of Commerce, the Huntington Business Development District, and the Huntington Economic Development Corporation--to commission the study last summer for a cost of $39,530.

Nelson-Nygaard began studying existing parking conditions and usage patterns in the fall and created a public survey on parking conditions. The electronic survey was posted on the Town and Chamber websites since January and will be open until March.

There are over 2,200 public parking spaces in the village, according to Nelson-Nygaard's findings, comprised of 42 percent on-street and 58 percent off-street spaces, 40 percent of which are metered and time-limited mostly by two hours. There are nine parking lots with free, unlimited parking. A PDF with the full findings and maps is attached to this article.

Nelson Nygaard also conducted focus groups of 8-12 business owners, local experts such as traffic engineers and architects, and residents.

The key issues identified by stakeholders were: Sufficiency of current supply, and options for expansion; Impact of the Paramount Theater on nearby businesses and residents; Awareness of off-street options; Long-term use of on-street spaces; Enforcement; Availability among most convenient options; and Plan for growth.

Cergol said she considered Tuesday's presentation at the Chamber meeting productive both in terms of current methods of allaying parking woes and for considering future plans. One of the easiest ways of reducing "search congestion," cars circling the block for a parking space, would be to post more signage pointing out parking lots around the village.

"If you're a new person coming into the area and you really don't know where our parking lots are, you're just going to look on the main thoroughfare to park and we need to make it more clear where the lots are," said Cergol. "There is minimal or no incentive to park outside the main way."

Nelson-Nygaard will complete an additional round of field studies in March. Draft recommendations will be presented to the steering committee by the end of April. A full PDF of their Tuesday presentation is attached to this article.

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