Despite a large turnout of residents and teachers attending the meeting in protest, the Stewart Manor Board of Trustees voted 3-2 to pass a bill into law on Tuesday, Aug. 6, that will force faculty members of Stewart Manor Elementary School to pay $50 a month for parking privileges.
Stewart Manor Elementary School currently has no parking lot of its own. Previously, teachers parked on the streets surrounding the school and did not have to pay a parking fee. However, under the newly-passed law, 35 parking spaces on Dover Parkway North on the west side of the street have been designated as paid permit spaces for teachers and staff of Stewart Manor Elementary by the village at a cost of $50; this translates to $500 per 10-month school year.
Mayor Gerard Tangredi said that the reason for the proposed law was, despite previous attempts to close village budget gaps by increasing non-taxable revenue such as parking meters and permit fees, additional expenses, such as unfunded state mandates, health insurance, and pension costs necessitated the need for additional monies to be generated.
“We wanted to explore other non-taxable revenues first, but our options are limited due to the size of our village,” he said. “The most reasonable non-taxable revenue is parking fees. We have explored new high-traffic areas to install parking meters, but despite the school being a high-traffic area, it would be unreasonable to install meters there. So the village has instead decided to use advance payment permit parking for these parking fees.”
The village hall was packed both with residents of Stewart Manor and those of surrounding communities such as New Hyde Park, all of whom took umbrage to the likelihood of increased traffic and parking encroachment on local streets presented by teachers affected by the law. In addition, numerous teachers from Stewart Manor Elementary School also attended to express their distress over the personal costs the proposed law stood to present to them.
A major complaint was the fact that 35 parking spaces will not be enough to accommodate all staff members of the school; therefore, teacher without permits, either by choice or by omission, will be forced to park in the neighboring streets of the school. Thus, due to current parking time limits imposed by the village on residential streets, these teachers will be forced to leave school grounds to move their cars every two-to-four hours or risk acquiring parking summonses from village code enforcers.
Among those who spoke at the public hearing was New Hyde Park Deputy Mayor Lawrence J. Montreuil, who stated that his village stood to be negatively impacted should
Stewart Manor pass the parking permit law at the elementary school.
“Many affected by this law would likely come to New Hyde Park, which is nearby, and park on our streets…we would rather not have to create tougher parking laws to have to deter this,” he said. “My village would be happy to sit down with you and help you explore other ways of generating equivalent revenue instead of passing this bill.”
After the public comment session was closed, Trustee Michael Onorato attempted to pass a motion to postpone the vote on the permit parking bill in order for the board to consider the comments and concerns expressed by the residents and teachers attending the meeting, but was unsuccessful in doing so. The board then immediately voted on the bill, passing it on a vote of 3-2.
Trustees Onorato and M. Carole Schafenberg voted against the bill.
The quick passing of the bill into law mere moments after the public comment session closed drew gasps and cries of outrage from the audience. Linda Brzynski, who lives on
Dover Parkway North, said that the board had failed the community they serve.
“I am so embarrassed to say that I am a resident of Stewart Manor,” she said. “I thought we lived in a democracy, and I feel that our six-member board betrayed the whole village, and the neighboring villages, who were all against this permit parking. I’m very disgruntled.”
According to Deputy Mayor James Lynch, the new law will go into effect during an as-of-yet undetermined point of the upcoming 2013-14 school year, once plans have been finalized and the law itself filed with the Secretary of State.