Farmingdale easing up on parking tickets
May 9, 2011 by BILL BLEYER / email@example.com
Farmingdale Village is trying to shed its reputation as a parking-ticket trap.
Concerned that strict enforcement of parking regulations has dissuaded residents and visitors from shopping and eating on Main Street, the village board has scaled back its enforcement staff and asked it to be a bit more flexible before handing out $50 tickets.
That change comes with a price: the village estimates it will take in $410,000 or about $65,000 less in ticket revenue this year than last. But with more than 20 Main Street storefronts vacant, the village board felt it was worth the sacrifice.
"We're trying to revitalize Main Street and it was horrible hearing people, especially out-of-towners coming into our village to frequent our restaurants, complaining about getting a ticket," Mayor George Starkie said.
He said he ran for the village board three years ago after learning the village was taking in more than $500,000 a year from motorists "rather than raising taxes or cutting expenses."
The board reduced the number of enforcement personnel so there are now three part-timers during the day and one at night. They spend most of their time patrolling Lot 1 -- the busiest lot that sits behind the stores on the west side of Main Street and north of Conklin Street -- where parking is free but limited to three hours around the clock.
The remaining staff, Starkie said, has been told that "we're trying to use some discretion."
Village administrator Brian Harty said Farmingdale also established an amnesty program for delinquent tickets from mid-February until March 31. Court personnel mailed notices to those with unpaid tickets going back five years and said penalties would be waived if they paid the initial fine. The village collected $27,000 after spending just over $1,000 in postage.
The village's more tolerant attitude is welcome news to motorists and merchants.
"I really applaud the village for giving people a break," said Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce president Debbie Poldolski.
Jessica Geremina, head bartender at Croxley Ale House on Main Street, said, "It's an absolutely fabulous idea. I have customers who complain they don't want to come back here because they are afraid of getting ticketed. They're staring at your car the minute your time is up. I had 11 tickets in one year."
Geremina said the parking restrictions "promote drunk driving because nobody wants to leave their car here" and take a taxi home after they've been drinking. "Farmingdale tickets all night. That shouldn't be."
Resident Antoinette Camisa, a school district monitor who parks in the lot about three times a week, said that although she's never gotten a parking ticket, she thought enforcement was heavy-handed in the past.
"If I know I'm going to get a ticket, why would I come here to shop?" she asked.