The major reason deck parking at the Suffolk County 6th District Court lot was ditched, mayor of Patchogue Paul Pontieri said, is because compared to the number of spots added, the $7 million price tag was just too costly. Rather, with a simple redesign of the lot, a considerable amount of additional parking spaces could be found.
The deck parking garage, Pontieri said, would have originally provided about 100 spaces, whereas the expansion of the current lot will add 50 to 60. Currently, the lot features 134 spaces; deck parking would have created 236 and the new proposal 185 to 190.
According to Suffolk County Legislature presiding officer Rob Calarco, the proposal might not feature as many spaces as the village would have liked to see, but it will be covered by the $1 million secured through a county grant in 2018. The project would also feature a newly redesigned rapid bus transit station on West Street, allowing for the bus to pull off to the side and pick up and drop off riders, as part of the county’s goal of becoming more transit oriented.
Patchogue was originally awarded $1 million as part of the county’s jump-start grant over two years ago, as well as a $1 million grant through the New York State Regional Economic Development Council’s Consolidated Funding Program. Both have since been set aside for parking.
“[The design] will push the boundaries of the lot and take up more of the grass areas,” Calarco said, stating that the objective is to maximize the number of spaces at that location. “As much as the deck parking made sense, because of the pandemic our efforts have shifted. We needed to re-evaluate what can be done there in a shorter amount of time.”
The new project, though currently with an engineering consultant company for cost estimates and final design, will cost much less than the $7 million parking garage, Pontieri noted. The new project will entail repaving, restriping and expansion, as well as making the road safer and more accessible for the bus.
“We are looking to get it done as soon as possible,” he added, waiting on county approvals. Once obtained and a design is decided on, the project will go out to bid.
Pontieri also noted that one of the most popular Uber drop-off and pickup spots in the county is the Tap Room on West Main Street, the entrance to the village. He said he believes this is the future of transportation and hopes to accommodate for that trend with an area to allow for it.
The village is actively pursuing other lots to expand the existing parking fields in addition to an additional space to make up for the difference. That acquisition is in addition to the potential lease of the National Grid lot on West Main Street for use as employee parking. The intention would be to pave it and keep it gated so that employees can be shuttled back and forth, freeing up prime downtown spaces.
Pre-pandemic, Patchogue’s downtown sees about 400 to 500 of the about 2,200 spaces filled by employees on any given Friday and Saturday night, about a quarter of all available parking. Pontieri estimated that by freeing those spaces, it would equate to almost 1,000 empty spaces, given the amount of time an employee usually occupies the spot, as opposed to a shopper or diner that only utilizes the space for about an hour or two.
The cost of garage construction was estimated at about $6 to $7 million. Initially, it was proposed that one deck would be constructed, with the foundations in place to add additional decks in the future, totaling approximately 180 spots per deck. Each additional deck would have had a cost as well, with the anticipation of adding one or two more as needed. All spots were to be metered in an effort to essentially pay for itself through a 20- to 30-year bond.