Sylvan Beach officials got an earful when they held a public hearing June 4 on proposed changes to the village parking law. Some restaurateurs complained paid parking was bad for business.
Under the revised law a parking ticket would cost $20 if paid within 10 days and be doubled to $40 if paid after 10 days.
"You're not being fair to business people here, said Eddie Stewart, owner of the popular Eddie's Restaurant "People aren't coming here anymore."
Stewart's beef was over apparent discrimination in the design of the parking district. Gone are the familiar coin-fed pedestal-mounted parking meters. Instead pay stations exist all over the business district. Drivers may insert coins or bills and must display the printed receipt on their dashboards. Violators are ticketed.
The problem is Eddie's is surrounded by pay stations while one of his main competitors, Captain John's, just up Main Street a few blocks, has signs indicating free, two-hour parking. Eddie accused the village of being partial to his competition.
Penny Miliken, owner of La Bella Cafe, across from Eddie's agreed.
"They see a sign that says 'Pay Here' and they keep on driving," she said.
Mayor Thomas Statkewicz explained that, some time ago, a high-revenue parking pay station malfunctioned. But another pay station located between 13th and 15th avenues, across from Captain John's, was only generating about $900 a year, so the village swapped it out for the malfunctioning one. There was no attempt to show favoritism, Statkewicz said.
"Can you blame him?" asked Jean Kowalski, owner of the Canal View Cafe. "It's selective enforcement and you can't have that."
Kowalski said the village should get a new pay station so the entire business district is treated equally, but she has her own problems with paid parking. Kowalski told the board how some of her customers were not familiar with the pay station system. Some would get parking tickets and never return to the beach out of frustration.