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Parks vs. Parking? Commuters Feel Squeeze

A fence appeared recently, barricading commuters from coveted and expensive train station parking spaces.

Despite the years of planning and public debate leading up to this moment, many commuters have been startled recently by the sudden and unannounced arrival of fencing blocking them from a good portion of the Metro-North parking lot.

Could a newly paved parking lot be on the way?, many wondered. No.

Rather, tennis and basketball courts will live in this central lot.

While some sports players might be happy to have their amenities return and further from the wind of the river, commuters both resident and non-resident who pay hundreds (or over $1,000 annually in the case of non-residents) to stow their cars here feel like they are on the wrong side of a park vs. parking problem. They feel as if there are more parkers than tennis/basketball players, and worse, more parkers than parking spaces.

Dr. John Marks of Tarrytown commutes daily to the city and has of late been engaging in long detailed back and forth emails with Mayor Drew Fixell. The exchange, he said, has made him feel better about the development and the village's conscientiousness about commuter sentiment, though not entirely. 

"Tarrytown’s virtue is that it’s a great commuter town," he wrote. "Why make it more of a hardship to find parking for those of us who moved here in order to commute by train?"

Save for Yankee game days — another topic deserving its own article, stay tuned for that — Mayor Fixell attests that the parking lots actually rarely get used to full capacity. He noted that if ever there was a deficit that residents would get first dibs; less non-resident permits would have to be issued.

Officials point to the temporary lot available now off West Main Street (there is a big sign here for this), and the new lot underway further down Green Street in the former fire training yard.

What the administration does apologize for however is the abruptness of the loss of a big central portion of the parking before the new lot is complete. The recent timing of the project, they say, has not been as planned.

The restoration of Andres Brook portion of the park rehab was meant to come first while a new replacement parking lot would be built. But because of a delay in the water permits required for the brook project, the work had to continue elsewhere to avoid increasing project costs.

There will be some weeks of unexpected lag time between the destruction of the old lot and the construction of the new lot on Green Street, but both the Mayor and Village Administrator Mike Blau have been assuring people that it's truly only a few weeks – contractors promise early September. They also say that new parking spaces will actually exceed the old.

Blau said there's 155 spaces being removed, with 167 on their way further south.

The now-controversial placement of things – basketball and tennis in the lot and a new commuter lot further south – never generated much debate at the time of the public meetings, said Fixell. He said about 15 to 20 people would show up for a series of meetings and he can't recall much dissent over the issue. This followed years of Planning Board, Board of Trustees, Recreation Advisory Committee, and Waterfront Advisory Committee meetings.

While Marks wondered why the project wasn't billed more as a "parking" project than a "park" one (and why not target announcements to commuters and nonresident users while they were at it), Fixell said they never saw it this way. 

"I'm sure we didn't advertise it to non-resident commuters or to the commuter lot generally, but that goes back to how we viewed the project – once we figured out that we weren't going to significantly reduce the spaces, we didn't perceive the location switch as being an issue that deserved special attention," Fixell said. "But I do agree that if we had advertised it as such, the turnout and reaction likely would have been significantly different."

Blau said the Pierson Park rehab comes from a six-year planning process that took different forms along the way. From the earliest talks of the project, the idea was just to replace park existing amenities with the same. But, he said, the plans didn't work with expansion (and that is someday supposed to happen care of Hudson Harbor, who has been roundly silent on their intentions) as well the realization that tennis and basketball don't work so well with the wind. The plan, he added, was actually scaled back in the end to take away less of the parking lot.

It's the "further south" part of the new lot underway that has many upset. Blau agreed, their walk to their spots would be longer, but not significantly. Many feel as if they are being pushed further aside by courts that won't always be in use – especially in the winter months. 

Marks wondered about their future usage at all. He also suggested a few creative solutions to the problem: tiered parking levels like White Plains has, appointed premium spaces like at airports.

"Between 8 am and 10 am weekdays, when hundreds of folks are searching for parking, the sight of that empty acre of recreational space will be VERY irritating," he said. "It already is."

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Patricia August 14, 2012 at 12:11 PM
People are generally lazy and if they have to walk 30 more yards to a parking lot they will spend more energy complaining than it takes to walk that 30 yards. But I do agree that if people cant smoke blunts or listen to hip hop loudly that new basketball court will not get used much, they will remain at Rev. Sykes Park. Oh, and police officers should get ready for a new commuter crossing form the new lot to the train station.
joy August 14, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I think te courts will be a great asset. But I do agree that the timing (the new spaces not being available yet) isn't perfect. I hope pedestrian traffic is accounted for in the new design. It is already hard to walk/cross in the lot.
Steve August 14, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Tarrytown is a wonderful village in which to live. Those in charge of the village over the years have had the foresight to create a habitable, non-commercialized village for people to live in and enjoy. It will never be appropriate or desirable to yield valuable land to commuters so they can have yet another parking lot. Commuters must do some "creative thinking" and form car pools, or catch the train elsewhere. Parking lots, with their asphalt, tar, concrete, and concentration of automotive exhaust are the antithesis of the charming village of Tarrytown, and could be its nemesis. We already suffer from the daily flow of commuters as they seek alternate ways to avoid Route 9. To get ahead of their fellow commuters, they race down residential streets with no apparent thought or concern for the people who live on those streets. People who live elsewhere and commute to the train cannot dictate the terms and conditions of life for those of us who live in Tarrytown.
Scott Croft August 14, 2012 at 01:55 PM
It's about time we got our tennis courts back.
Raul Enriquez August 14, 2012 at 02:02 PM
guarantee you these courts will be used sparingly...........it will be an unused parcel of wasted land for at least 6 months out of the year...
Esq. August 14, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I cannot imagine that it will be very desirable to play tennis in the middle of a parking lot. I Wouldn't it have made more sense to place the tennis courts in the space where the new lot is being constructed? It is next to the baseball field and could have been more of a recreation center. And while some residents attempt to villify commuters, the high property taxes are only worth it to couples and families looking to move due to the ease and low-stress of the commute. It was one of the main draws when I moved here 6 years ago. If commuters are disregarded, then many new home seekers will move to Irvington, Edgemont, Bronxville and the like where the school system is better and there is ample spaces to park. It is also naive for those wary of traffic to think that eliminating parking spots and/or making them further away from the train (even further than the three flights up and three flights up that must be hiked twice daily) will somehow eliminate the perceived speeding and dangerous driving behavior. From my experience in the last two weeks, the calm morning commute has now become a battle to who can get to the lot first to get the closer spots. Eliminating the spots (especially when the new ones are not ready) has created a real hazardous situation.
Mike August 14, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Too bad. I use TTN train station for Yankee games and jaunts into the city. We often would then cap off the day/night with a bite to eat and drink in on eof the many nice restaraunts in TTN- guess we'll have to take our business to another village.
Michael Emerson August 14, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I say, the Tarrytown residents get the closer and more convenient spaces, let the non-residents take the longer, less-convenient walk in the snow & rain.
michael August 14, 2012 at 03:15 PM
WHAT A FIASCO!! thank you for the tarrytown administration ! a complete waste of taxpayer money !! the gazebo fron pierson park was built not to long aga , why to demolish it ??? the tennis court in question in the middle of the parking lot : already existed why not to refurbish the existing one ??? I think I am going to be candidate for the next mayor election , to stop the fiasco we have for the past few years . ( a sick and tired tarrytown resident and tax payer !!!...)
Anna Cangiano August 14, 2012 at 03:16 PM
To Esq, You may need to get a second job to pay the taxes in Irvington, and Bronxville they tend to be double Tarrytowns taxes. You may be job hunting instead of hunting for a spot...you can always set up shop in Tarrytown! and not commute the happiest people can walk to work according the The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner....just saying ;-) Have a happy day!
Melissa August 14, 2012 at 03:43 PM
As a 5th generation village resident, I prefer to have more parks and recreation for the youth then worry about where any of you are going to park your cars! Over the past few years I have watched my quaint little village be destroyed and turned into commuter central equiped with ridiculous million dollar condos and people who, instead of embracing the village they "fell in love with" when they moved here, keep trying to "make it better" and change everything about it. It is very sad to see. If you are from out of town, park somewhere else if you don't like it, and if you are from town, walk to the train station or carpool! And as for that comment about our school system not being good enough for you, I would think your child's education would be a higher priority than your commute to work. So if that's the case then move because you obviously are one of those "i love this place, now let's change everything about it" people. And good luck finding ample parking in Irvington, you obviously don't know the area too well.
Steve August 14, 2012 at 04:02 PM
"the calm morning commute has now become a battle to who can get to the lot first to get the closer spots." You have made my point for me! Commuters chose to live farther away from the train for financial or personal reasons. Now they shatter our calm with their battles to get the parking spaces closer to the station. They bring to Tarrytown, the consequences of their choice to live elsewhere. They are waging their battles for parking spaces on in OUR town. They chose to live elsewhere, and now they want Tarrytown to give them more of our land to justify their short-sighted home-buying decisions and personal laziness. It is naive to expect us to give you our land just so you can continue to commute. It is also simple-minded for commuters to fail to organize car pools - or is it that commuters are so tired from fighting each other and climbing stairs over the tracks that they can't agree to form car pools? Why not demand escalators from the railroad? "PERCEIVED(?) speeding and dangerous driving behavior"? YOU already stated that commuters are fighting a daily battle to get to the train first so they don't have to walk a few more steps. To that end, they race through residential neighborhoods, don't stop at stop signs, and speed around blind curves. You might "perceive" the daily race to and from the train as a trifling matter, but it is a matter of safety and a daily detriment to the quality of life Tarrytown is still trying to preserve.
Esq. August 14, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I am a commuter and a resident of Tarrytown. I am not asking anyone to "give [commuters] his land". This "land" we are referring to Steve is already a parking lot, which has been in existence for at least 6 years (and I would guess much longer but I am not going to make up "facts" like other posters here.) Yes, we all love idyllic towns without any ugly warehouses, condos taking over the waterfront, 7 nail salons, 4 frozen yogurt stores or 2 hot dog stands. We would all use vast green, open spaces while walking to our perfect career on Main Street while we take 3 hour lunch breaks and eat organic food at Sweetgrass before taking an afternoon siesta. Who cares about the town's economy? Who cares about citizens who can are able to patronize our great local businesses? Who cares about those who live in Tarrytown but gasp (!) in the Crest and not within walking distance to the trains Moreover, the last time I checked using mass transportation was considered responsible commuting. Yes, parks and recreational facilities are wonderful, but commuters (who are also Tarrytown residents) are also an integral part of the culture, color and economy of this Village. The article repots that the spaces are being replaced. The issue is notice and poor planning. The town has the names and addresses of all permit holders. We should have been notified more than 1 day in advance & the new lot should have been completed prior to the construction of tennis courts.
Steve August 14, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I agree with everything you said. To the Yankee fan, his friends, and others who use Tarrytown as a convenience before and after games or other events in NYC.....please DO find another village to infest.
Heron August 14, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Good luck finding another village that lets you park there. Unless you want to go out in Croton.
Heron August 14, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I AGREE!!!!!
townie August 14, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Tarrytown will not head to public safety first until someone ( adult or child) gets killed or seriously injured by the aggressive driving as commuters speed through residential areas on their way to the tarin. Now, it will be more dangerous than ever as people jockey for parking farther from train platforms. Most of these neighborhoods are walking distance to W.I., which will have 8 year olds walking to school for the first time. Such ignorant and thoughtless planning for the sake of tennis and basket ball courts. Shame on Tarrytown.
Heron August 14, 2012 at 06:38 PM
It seems to me that there are two separate issues. I can see why residents who commute into the city and use the parking lot feel inconvenienced if there are no spaces available. A separate issue is parking for non-residents. I have often wondered how much money Tarrytown makes from the non-resident parking lot and whether having the number of non-resident spaces that we do provide is worth it to the village. I've also wondered whether Tarrytown has some kind of commitment with Metro North, whereby the village must provide this parking. It's has occured to me that, if the village were to make non-resident parking more limited, perhaps that would put pressure on the Tappan Zee Bridge builders and would force the bridge to do something about mass transit .
wanda August 14, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Maybe I am once again missing something .How does it make sense to build a new PARKING LOT FOR $700,000 WHEN WE ALREADY HAD A PARKING LOT? Why not put the $700,000 into the cost of the Tennis courts? Maybe its another free parking lot for the BOAT CLUBS. Once again something smells fishy
Krista Madsen (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 01:25 PM
All good questions that I will explore more. thank you.
Krista Madsen (Editor) August 15, 2012 at 09:06 PM
To answer some questions in this thread: a bubble is not in the plans (yet). Moving courts to the fire training yard was never considered because this was part of Pierson park expansion and meant to be continuous with that park. Also, writes Mike Blau, "since Andre Brook is being restored, there is an overall improvement with the brook and areas on both sides of the brook."
Lisa D'Abre August 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM
The old tennis courts were in absolutely terrible shape yet each and every time i played there with my son we had to wait. Not a complaint, an observation. And apropos of nothing, what is it going to take for commuters, ESPECIALLY cabs, to consider or care that there are 20+ children under the age of 16 just from broadway/independence street intetsection to riverview intetsection? One dead kid? Two? SLOW DOWN!! And yes, i am the lady yelling at you as you careen down independence street at 3 times speed limit with your attention focused on phone call, text and cugarette lighting.
Patricia August 25, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Have any children (and I don't known why they are more important than adults) been hit and killed by a commuter in the past 10 years? Where is this fear coming from? Is it based on facts or just unreasonable fear? Teach the kids to use caution when in the streets and they should be ok. Look both ways before crossing, its first grade stuff.
Theresa Brick September 09, 2012 at 03:52 PM
@Patricia, & others who don't think speeding is a big threat if you "look both ways " while crossing the street in town. I'm a 40ish woman, I walk with a cane. That alone should be a clue to drivers that I need a few more seconds to cross the street, & I must say drivers who care are out there & have given me this courtesy. One incident I will never forget- I was crossing Rt 9 at corner of Church St. There was no southbound traffic, & the northbound driver stopped to let me cross. Just as I was giving them a 'thank you' wave, I literally had to run & throw myself to the ground to avoid being run over by an Ice Cream Truck! Who passed the car on the right, even up onto the curb, driving so fast he wasn't even in site when I 'looked both ways'. This happened at a 4 way intersection! Luckily since I am extra cautious & only cross when I have the extra time needed to do so, I survived. Would a bunch of kids crossing be able to avoid this lawbreaking driver? Maybe some, but being an Ice Cream truck? The irony is ridiculous! This is just an example of what happens around here every day. @Melissa, I just wrote a post very similar to yours on another thread. So sad!
Patricia September 09, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Well I am glad everything turned out ok for you during that experience. I have not heard of any kids getting struck by an ice cream truck speeding though. This sought of event does happen to people and that is why it is up to you (or any pedestrian) to be extra careful when crossing the street. I am not just a driver, I am also a pedestrian and use caution when walking in or across the street. I can't expect other people to look out for me, I will look out for them. If people do give you courtesy that is very nice, but you can't expect everyone to do it. According to the vehicle and traffic law of New York you do not have the right away until you are "in" the crosswalk and in the section of the crosswalk where the traffic is flowing.

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