Although Pelham officials have agreed to hear the concerns Carol Avenue residents have over parking during their May 22 board meeting, residents are pushing for village officials to meet with them even sooner.
“We will not be bullied by this administration,” said Robert Keller, a Wolfs Lane resident and who's frustrated with the parking situation. “We’re willing to sit down and negotiate, but just telling us that we can’t park there is not going to work.”
More than a dozen residents showed up to take their concerns to trustees. Many of the people who showed up are members of the newly formed Carol Avenue Association, a group created in response to the lack of overnight parking in their neighborhood.
The issue originates from an agreement that the village reached with the Clovelly Homeowners Association, along with residents of Brookside and Hillside avenues, in December to have access to 24 hour street parking permits. Village officials agreed to give Clovelly Inc., the right sell parking permits to the residents in its townhouses in exchange for annual parking fees.
The parking permits extend to the west side of Carol Avenue and only cost $250. However, village law prohibits other Carol Avenue residents from parking on the public street overnight. Instead, they must pay $750 for annual permits that allow them to park in designated spots away from their homes.
The other option for residents in the neighborhood is to park along Boulevard, on the Mount Vernon Border, near the train station or Mount Vernon.
Police have been issuing warnings to cars parked illegally on Carol Avenue. Those warnings will continue until the end of May, according to the village board. If drivers continue to park overnight illegally after May, police officers will begin to issue tickets.
Keller, who’s lived in the village for 29 years, said he has never received a ticket or warning for parking until now.
“Carol residents were offered a deal consisting of 24 hour parking permits at a cost of $250 annually,” Keller said. “The Carol Avenue Association has asked for the same deal, but the village is balking at their request.”
Even if the village opened up all of Carol Avenue for overnight parking, there wouldn’t be enough parking spaces to accommodate everybody, Keller said. Plus, everybody may not be willing to fork over $750 for permit, especially if they have more than one car.
“These are very difficult times financially and people are struggling to pay their taxes and mortgages,” Keller said.
As part of the village’s parking agreement with Clovelly Inc., Clovelly agreed not to fight the village’s claim that Brookside and Hillside avenues are public streets. This agreement is important because it allows the Picture House to install a storm-water remediation pipe on Brookside Avenue as part of its expansion project.
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Francis LaManna, a Carol Avenue resident, said he has lived on the street with his wife for 24 years. Before he moved there, LaManna said his wife’s parents on Carole for 49 years.
“When were moving were told ‘don’t, worry you’re allowed to park on this block,” LaManna said. “If I had known it was going to be an issue, I would’ve planned accordingly.”
He said the change will really impact him because he has three cars, including a company vehicle.
LaManna said he would apply for a HOPE, or Hardship Overnight Parking Exemption, but he doesn’t qualify because he lives in a home with a driveway. A HOPE is a temporary parking pass residents can apply for if they meet certain conditions.
LaManna’s driveway is small, like the majority of the driveways on the street, and can barely fit one car.
“Other people with a HOPE permit can park here, but the people who live on this street can’t,” LaManna said.
LaManna believes the problem is only going to get worse because there are other areas, like River Avenue, where people have been allowed to park on the street.
Trustee Adama Kagan acknowledged during Tuesday’s meeting that the village’s on street parking laws haven’t been administered consistently.
“I think the intention here is to fix something that hasn’t been fairly enforced and I know there are places where....it’s not been enforced and I know we’re going to examine those as well,” Kagan said. “But the circumstances on each block are different. In some cases it’s state land and in some cases it’s a settlement of a legal dispute. Each one of these is a little bit different, but I can tell you that we are examining them.”
Trustee Paul McGoldrick said the board will continue the discussion during its next board meeting.
Keller said he’s meeting with other residents in the neighborhood to see if things can be streamlined.
“We only have until the end of the month to figure out where we’re going to park,” Keller said. “We need the village to sit down with us and figure out what we’re going to do.”