Whether you are a senior citizen, baby boomer, member of generation X or Y you are coming back to village life in droves. The lure of being able to walk to restaurants and shops along with the enjoyment of visually vibrant small communities has made village life a high priority.
However, all is not well in paradise.
Take the issue of adequate parking, for example, and specifically in Tarrytown. Yes, strides have been made in increasing parking for residents and tourists alike with a metered lot on Broadway adjacent to Christ Church, spaces leased behind the former Wachovia Bank at the corner of Neperan Road, and the installation of additional street parking along Broadway. Yet there still exists the need for concrete proposals to increase parking within Tarrytown now and not later. Growth is projected throughout Westchester County and specifically within the river town communities. With that growth comes the automobile and it is not uncommon for three of them to be in one family. Cars, like their owners, need space, and therein lies the rub.
This publication has looked at parking proposals and engineering plans that date back ten years. At that time the Pilla administration had the Adler group study the possibility of creating "pocket parking" for up to 40 cars behind Main Street businesses from Kaldenburg Place to Washington Street. It would have entailed purchasing the property that basically serves as a backyard for the Main Street properties. Moving on to the year 2000, three local business owners had plans drawn up at their own expense on the feasibility of creating an underground parking facility behind CVS on Broadway. That project would have enabled the creation of 308 additional parking spaces and would have literally been "out-of-sight!"
So why has Tarrytown deliberated so long on an issue that is so critical to its economic viability in the future? One could say that three governmental administrations have changed hands in less than ten years and with each new group of elected officials has come a "starting over" of sorts. Another reason, equally as concrete, is the widespread opposition by residents to parking structures. One had only to attend Trustee Board meetings when a proposal was made to build a second level to the Washington Street parking lot not too many years ago. "Not in my backyard" was the repeated call that prevailed over the determination of elected officials. That being said, not all parking structures are ugly. This publication has seen photographs of parking structures integrated into their communities from Florida to upstate New York, with little or no eye strain. Depending on their size and scope, parking structures can be built with brick, landscaped and even made to fit the architectural style of the municipality it serves.
Regardless of whether it’s pocket parking at street level, underground parking or adding a deck to existing parking lots, the need for additional parking in Tarrytown has been batted around for well over a decade.
JoAnne Murray, President of the Sleepy Hollow Chamber of Commerce, recently sat down with River Journal. She and local officials have identified several sites for additional parking, one of which is behind the Masonic Building on Main Street. In addition to the existing parking (for businesses who lease space in the Masonic Building), there is the possibility of creating 30 additional parking spaces. To accomplish that increase the Village would have to purchase an existing four-car garage and a retail business on the site.
At the end of Kaldenburg Place (the first right after the Music Hall) is a Village-owned building now housing a fire engine company that will be moving into a new station on Route 119. Adjacent to the firehouse is a privately owned vacant building and lot that was a car repair operation. The property had been offered to the Village for $365,000 and now under a new owner the asking price is approximately $475,000. Accordingly there exists the opportunity to demolish the old firehouse, purchase the private lot and create parking one block away from the Main Street business center.
Behind the CVS store on Broadway exists the largest private parking area in the Village. For over a decade elected Village officials have held
on-and-off discussions with the parking lot’s owner. At present, discussions are on again but no specifics are available as to the direction the Village will take.
JoAnne Murray hopes that a groundswell of support from residents identifying the need for parking in Tarrytown will prompt Village officials to give the issue high priority. After all, residents elect their officials and officials want to do their best to be worthy of being elected and reelected. "Addressing the parking problem in Tarrytown with a systematic timetable of accomplishments by mid-2009 is not only necessary it is critical to the Village’s economic future," she said.
The Village has had access to a $750,000 parking grant since the previous Janos administration. It is simply time to walk the talk. In other words, before the meter runs out, it’s time for a call to action.