West New York commits $3.4 million more for a parking lot project

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West New York has pledged millions to further support the construction of one of its three planned parking lots.

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to pass the ordinance securing $3,450,000 for the construction of a parking lot at the 57th Street parking lot site. It is one of three surface parking lots currently being converted to parking garages by the city to increase parking, including the lots at 51st Street and 54th Street.

The money that would be raised by the ordinance presented at the March 23 council meeting is in addition to the millions the city has already set aside for the project. The city previously appropriated $8,550,000 in parking service bonds in support of the project, in an order passed by commissioners in February 2021.

The decision to guarantee more funds aims to finance the additional cost of the project. The maximum amount of bonds to be issued for the project is now $11,590,000, according to the order.

The existing surface car park has approximately 94 parking spaces. The planned new garage will contain approximately 197 parking spaces. Construction is expected to be completed by mid-November 2023.

This is part of the city’s efforts to help reduce parking demand. Although no member or commissioner spoke at the public hearing, the parking garage plan later became an interesting topic of discussion at the meeting.

During the public comment portion at the meeting, which was the first in-person iteration held in a long time due to COVID-19, there were some criticisms of the city’s plan to bring more parking to the area.

Johan Andrade of Bike North Bergen told the board the idea was a short-term fix that would only exacerbate the parking problem in the long run.

‘Induced demand?’

“Building parking lots may give you a short-term solution, but soon the city will have to build more parking infrastructure,” Andrade said. “Why so? The answer is induced demand. It’s the same problem when freeway lanes are widened to try to ease congestion, but it ultimately fails because more people end up driving and filling that new again. volume at full capacity.

Andrade argued for a protected bike lane along Boulevard Est, as opposed to the current plan to install corner parking on parts of it. He noted that making the boulevard a “complete street” using part of the approximately $19 million in federal funds allocated for the project, which would include pedestrian safety improvements, longer bus stops and the protected bike path. , would result in the loss of only 57 parking spaces.

That would be meager compared to the 487 parking spaces the city creates with parking garages, according to Andrade. And giving people an alternative way to get around means fewer people driving and therefore parking.

“The Boulevard East project won’t be completed until 2027, that’s five years to get creative and find solutions to the small loss of parking spaces in Western New York,” Andrade said. “A parking-protected cycle path means that cars can always parallel park in demarcated parking spaces on the east side. Would scrapping a bike lane that would efficiently move thousands of people, decongest our roads, prevent injury, or worse death, to our most vulnerable users outweigh the preservation of 57 parking spaces in the form of a corner parking lot.

The Board of Commissioners met in person for the first time in many months since the COVID-19 pandemic began on April 6. Photo by Daniel Israel.

The city will not remove parking

In response, Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez said he understands the safety of cyclists and pedestrians is a major concern on East Boulevard.

“I completely understand your concern about bike safety,” Rodriguez said. “It is obviously a concern for all of us. But as you can understand, as you said, it’s the most densely populated area in the country, which translates to a lack of parking in the community.

According to Rodriguez, the city is trying to address the parking problem, arguably the number one problem in Western New York, through the construction of these parking lots and other means such as the installation of a parking lot in corner on East Blvd. Removing places would run counter to that plan, he said.

“We took it upon ourselves to create more parking spaces by converting surface lots into garages,” Rodriguez said. “But to remove spaces from East Boulevard… Not everyone has access to these lands, not everyone lives near these lands.”

Car parks not close to the boulevard

Rodriguez said the planned garage locations were not near East Boulevard, meaning removing those locations would leave many people without a place to park.

“It would take spaces away from people who live near the boulevard,” Rodriguez said. “Although this plan seems very solid, not everyone has the luxury of getting rid of a vehicle or even two and acquiring a bicycle. Not everyone can use a bike to get to work or school.

Although Rodriguez hasn’t completely dismissed the plan, he said the city is now focused on adding parking spaces. This includes by guaranteeing the additional funds needed to support one of the parking garage projects.

“Long term, I think it’s a great idea,” Rodriguez said. “But realistically now our responsibility is to create more parking. And removing parking on the boulevard is counterproductive. That’s how we see it right now. I am considering other avenues to increase security on the Bouelvard. But the decrease in parking spaces is something that residents would not be happy with. We are the most densely populated region of the country. Taking spaces away would be detrimental to this neighborhood, especially now that the world is opening up and people are moving.

Conversation likely to continue

Emannuelle Morgen of Bike Hudson County and Cara Nasello of Bike Weehawken also spoke out in favor of the protected bike lane as part of the “complete street” plan. However, Rodriguez did not speak further on the subject, standing behind the proposed construction of parking garages and against the protected bike lane on East Boulevard.

However, bike and transport advocates have remained steadfast in their quest to get cities on board with “complete streets” plans. Conversations about parking and bike lanes will likely continue at the next meeting.

The Western New York Board of Commissioners will meet again on April 27 at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit westnewyorknj.org.

For updates on this story and others, visit www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at [email protected]

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