CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. The New Castle Town Board racked its collective brain Wednesday night to think up creative ways to allot more parking spaces for merchants and customers in downtown Chappaqua.
Town Clerk Jill Shapiro said the town's policy of allowing business owners up to seven free parking permits, to avoid being ticketed, is not leaving much space for the shoppers.
According to Shapiro, the town issued 176 merchant passes in 2011 when the town was charging a $150 yearly fee per permit. Shapiro said the number more than doubled to 368 permits in 2012 when the town began issuing them for free.
"The problem is that we simply don't have 368 merchant spots," she said. Shapiro said the downtown area has approximately 450 combined street and parking lot spaces.
John Buckley was one of several council members who suggested re-instating the town's old policy of charging for merchant parking.
"I think that's the road we might want to consider going," he said. "Because when it's free, it's like who wouldn't want seven tickets?"
Town officials quickly shot down Susan Carpenter's suggestion of moving merchants to the train station parking lot, saying there is simply no room. Shapiro said the town issued 1,399 commuter passes this year.
Council member Jason Chapin believes shifting the merchants to other existing public lots in Chappaqua would only shift the problem with it. He recommended the town approach businesses or churches to potentially lease spaces from their private lots.
"I think we have to put as many options on the table as possible," Chapin said. "I do think we need to try again to see if there are any additional spaces that we can get. I mean, it may just be a handful here and a handful there."
Board member Elise Mottel, who is a liaison to the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce, said she will engage the newly-created organization to see if it has creative ideas of its own. The town also said it is open to hearing any solutions from residents on the parking problem.
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