The Hartsdale Public Parking District passed a temporary emergency resolution on Oct. 7, which allows residents from outside unincorporated Greenburgh to buy daily passes to park in the district’s designated parking areas.
District commissioners also plan to introduce daily parking passes to more lots, which would allow any resident within the community or in neighboring communities to pay $10 and park between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. in Site F, Site B, Site D and also in parking spaces along Pipeline Road.
According to Stephanie Crowe, the manager of the parking district, daily spots were only previously available in Site B and Site C, which offer about 100 spaces combined. The expansion of the daily passes will add another 120 spots for commuter use.
According to district commissioner Bill Sicari, the emergency resolution will be in effect for six months and an official start date is tentatively set for Nov. 1. Changes will also occur throughout the emergency resolution’s period per commuter requests and habits and there is an opportunity for an extension if a need is determined.
The introduction of the daily pass and admissible use by outside communities comes as the district struggles to fill empty commuter parking spaces since more people work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The parking district’s four parking lots and two garages have been relatively empty since Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stay-at-home order took effect in March. As the infection rate dipped and more residents started shopping locally and commuting sparsely, revenues from parking ticked up, although not as much as prior to the pandemic. According to Sicari, revenues for the district have fallen more than 50%.
In late March, the district’s commissioners voted to suspend meter payments in light of the pandemic to help stimulate growth in Hartsdale’s downtown business district. The meters were put on hold for four to six weeks but have since been reinstated. Some spots were converted for use by local restaurants to set up outdoor dining.
The decision to move toward daily passes also comes as the district struggles with the unknown course of the pandemic. Annual permit sales have stopped, as commuters don’t know how often — or whether — they will be working in city offices in the coming months. Sicari said around 50% of the district’s commuters requested prorated refunds for their annual permits.
“Right before the pandemic … we would see 100-plus cars on the Pipeline [and] now we maybe see 20,” said Crowe.
The district is still accepting prorated refund requests for annual permits. Quarterly permits cannot be refunded.
Six weeks ago, the district sent out a survey to 300 commuter clients to gauge how often unincorporated residents would be returning to work in the city and whether they would need to use the district’s commuter lot.
According to the survey results, a majority of residents felt they would be commuting one or two days per week in the fourth quarter. In 2021, commuters were unsure how often they would be commuting, but believed it would be between one to three days per week.
“Our dilemma is our parking lots are empty and you’ve got over 350 spaces in there, so it hurts us financially,” said Sicari. “So we decided, let’s just do this … for Hartsdale residents and people in unincorporated Greenburgh and then we’ll offer it outside of that in the other villages.”
The district has been working under an austerity budget since the pandemic hit and has canceled all major contracts for maintenance work, using existing staff to complete most of the work internally.
“We’re going to be fine right through 2020-21. We’re not concerned,” said Sicari. “Beyond that we’re not sure of what might happen.”
The district’s commissioners are still working on some of the resolution’s minor details and plan to move in step with commuter feedback.