Will 30-minute spots help Riverhead’s parking shortage?

Riverhead parking

Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association officials are hoping to recommend 30-minute parking limits for certain spaces downtown.

The BIDMA discussed the issue of two-hour parking, and how that adversely impacts certain local businesses, at its Dec. 21 meeting.

The idea for a 30-minute limit in select locations had previously come up during a discussion between the BIDMA and the town’s parking district advisory committee.

“If you’re going in for coffee or some cookies, you’re really just in and out,” said BIDMA president Steve Shauger. “You don’t need two-hour parking.”

The 30-minute spaces would be located near stores whose customers are more likely to be in and out quickly, as opposed to, for instance, a restaurant.

The specific locations haven’t been determined and the BIDMA didn’t have enough members in attendance at its Dec. 21 meeting to formally vote on the recommendation, which would have to be enacted by the Town Board.

Nancy Kouris, co-owner of Blue Duck Bakery on East Main Street, said there are just three parking spaces in front of her store and the two stores next to it.

“They are taken pretty much all day,” she said.

Mr. Shauger said he anticipates pros and cons with any proposal regarding revised parking limits.

“There are some people that maybe are accustomed to the two-hour parking, and now, all of a sudden, they would have one less spot,” he said. “We know that parking is at a premium right now.”

The 30-minute parking spaces would only be in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mr. Shauger said.

Many of the stores are closed by then and restaurants, which usually stay open later, would not be impacted. The two-hour parking limit would be in effect after 6 p.m., he said.

Dee Muma, who owns Dark Horse Restaurant on East Main Street, said her customers have difficulty finding parking spaces as well.

“I have people who order take-away meals and they can’t park,” she said.

Mr. Shauger said the idea of designating some spaces for short-term parking was one of the suggestions of the town’s Brownfield Opportunity Area study of downtown Riverhead in 2015.

Councilman John Dunleavy, the Town Board liaison to the BIDMA, pointed out that the parking lot behind the former Sonoma Grill is a public lot.

“Most people think that’s a private lot,” he said.

The town leases that lot from its owner for use as public parking.

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Photo: Downtown Riverhead. (Credit: Tim Gannon)