Assemblyman Benedetto: set our parking meters free for the holidays

If Assemblyman Mike Benedetto could get one wish granted this holiday season, it would be that the city implements a parking meter moritorium in the outer boroughs.

On Tuesday, November 16, on Westchester Square, Benedetto stumped with local business leaders to share his idea.

“It’s basically to try and help out the commercial areas throughout the outerboroughs,” he said. “Small businesses that populate these commercial strips are having hard times right now. From the president on down to the small businesses, people are saying we should do everything we can to help them out, but little is ever done. By doing away with the metered parking, we would encourage people to stay locally and shop in their communities.”

Benedetto would like to see the meters deactivated from the day after Thanksgiving until January 1. The day after Thanksgiving – which is commonly known as Black Friday because sales for the day are usually so large they push balance sheets from the red into the black – marks the start of the heaviest shopping period of the year.

Doing away with metered parking for the season has been put into action outside the city, such as the Village of Pelham in Westchester County, and the merchants and shopper have benefitted, Benedetto said. He hopes suspending the meters would stem the flow of Bronxites from leaving the area to shop at the larger malls outside that city that provide free parking.

“It’s little things like this that the city should be doing to encourage people to stay local when they shop,” Benedetto said. “If they know they need to feed the meter, shoppers go to the malls where they can park and do their shopping and not worry about tickets.”

Business leaders across the Bronx agree.

“I feel it would be a fantastic thing. Customers need to be able to have access to parking and not be fearful of a ticket,” said Greg Perry, owner of Crown Trophy on Westchester Square and president of the Westchester Square Merchants Association. “I’ve heard about places suspending parking in strips to accelerant shopping and had great results.”

Throggs Neck Merchants Association President John Cerini said suspending parking would be great for his area as well.

“If you get a ticket, you might spend more on the ticket than the gifts,” he said. “I think that businesses would be for it as long as there’s no confusion on how they intend to monitor it.”

Benedetto said his plan calls for shoppers to get a maximum of 90 free minutes. He suggested parking violations officers use the same techniques used when a parking meter is broken.

City officials did not respond to the proposal.

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