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Suffolk introduces veteran parking; locals say it’s not necessary

07/11/2016 6:47 AM |

veterans parking

The Suffolk County Legislature has passed a bill designed to make life easier for veterans: designated parking spots at all county buildings.

Proposed earlier this year, the measure passed unanimously at the Legislature’s general meeting June 21.

Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) thought that, in return for the sacrifices made by our troops, this would be a way to show respect for veterans. It also seemed fitting, he said, because Suffolk County has the most veterans in New York State.

“They have handicapped parking and clean-pass parking,” Mr. Muratore said. “Why not have veterans parking so they don’t have to walk so far?”

Despite the 18-0 vote in its favor, some veterans were unaware of the bill — or don’t support it.

Craig Richter, veteran and commander of the Greenport American Legion post, falls into the latter category.

“I don’t agree with it — I can walk,” he said. “If I was a veteran with disabilities, I could park in handicapped spots. We don’t need this.”

Don Wagner, a veteran from the Southold American Legion post, agreed that a healthy veteran is capable of finding a parking spot and walking.

A similar measure was enacted in 2014 in the Town of Brookhaven, where a parking spot in front of Town Hall was designated for veterans who had earned Purple Hearts. That program’s success influenced the creation of this bill, according to Mr. Muratore.

The pending law states that two parking spaces in each of the 110 county parking lots with 30 or more spots will be reserved for veterans. Veterans will need to have proof of their status displayed on their vehicle in some way.

According to Robert Martinez, Mr. Muratore’s chief of staff, veterans will receive ID cards, similar to those used at colleges, to display in their windshields.

The measure won’t affect taxpayers because the necessary funds are in the existing budget, officials said.

The proposal was laid on the table Jan. 4 and went through a full cycle of public hearings. It still needs to be signed by the county executive and, once that’s done, it will take effect 120 days after being filed with the secretary of state.

Once it becomes law, the departments of public works and veteran affairs, as well as the parks department, will begin implementing it countywide.

Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said the implementation work will happen a little at a time, depending on whether parking lots are in need of other improvements.

“Not all of the lots will be done overnight,” he said.

Mr. Krupski said creation of veterans spaces at certain lots, such as the County Center in Riverhead, will happen sooner than other places that need paving work. For example, potholes at Cedar Beach in Southold need to be filled.

Designated parking spots won’t require special painting because signs indicating they’re reserved for veterans will be posted, officials said.

A specific design for the signs has not yet been selected. Mr. Martinez said it will most likely resemble ones used in Islandia, which are white with “Veteran Parking Only” written in red.

Anyone found parking in these spots without proper ID will be subject to a fine of up to $100, according to the legislation.

Photo credit: Brookhaven Town, courtesy 

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