Greenport Village is hoping to make the MTA an offer it can’t refuse.
The village board last night approved developing a plan pitched by Trustee Doug Roberts to seek a new arrangement with the state authority that will give the village control over most of the parking areas on MTA-owned land around the Greenport LIRR station.
The aim is two-fold, Roberts told the board during last week’s work session when he presented his idea. It will provide more and better parking facilities for village businesses and residents and will generate revenue village coffers in the form of parking fees.
The trustee estimates his proposal will generate annual new revenue for the village of about $95,000.
Roberts wants to ask the MTA to pave five parking areas around the train station and enter into a lease with the village that will allow Greenport to collect fees for parking in four of the five lots. The fifth lot would be reserved for village residents, who would use the lot without charge.
Roberts estimates the MTA’s capital investment would be about $344,000, which it would recoup over a proposed 10-year lease through a revenue-sharing arrangement with the village. The arrangement would bring the MTA more than $40,000 in annual revenue, Roberts estimates, for net income of $362,000 over 10 years (on top of the return on its investment).
The trustee wants the village to ask Hampton Jitney to make a $50,000 capital investment by providing five parking meter kiosks at a cost of $10,000 each. The kiosks accept payment by credit card only and dispense tickets which indicate payment and parking dates. Cars parked in the pay lots would be required to display the tickets in the windshields.
Greenport would enter into a revenue-sharing agreement with the bus company, which would see almost $15,000 in annual revenues as a result.
Roberts said he’s already discussed his ideas with Mitch Pally, Long Island’s representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors
“He said he could get sign-off on this,” Roberts said. “The MTA does not want to manage this site,” he explained. “They’d be happy for the local entity to manage it.”
Mayor George Hubbard expressed skepticism that the MTA would be willing to invest money to improve the parking areas, noting that other requests to the authority “to grade it and such” were refused.
“They could tell us to jump in a lake,” Roberts said, “but I’ve been told by Mitch and these guys who met with us from the planning and real estate departments that they want to see that we’d be stewards of the site, that we’d take care of it and increase their revenue over time.”
Roberts said that most MTA sites around the island are managed locally and that the local municipalities collect parking fees and generate revenue from them.
“Every other MTA site has some sort of metered parking, some sort of parking payment,” Roberts told board members last week. “The MTA wants to participate in the revenue. I’ve proposed to you a plan where they’ve put in some money and after 10 years they will double their investment,” he said.
“The main complaint would be from people outside the village” who would now have to pay to park. “I’d say go find me an MTA lot where you don’t have to pay to park,” Roberts said. All lots other than the LIRR main line lots, which he said are restricted by law, charge for parking.
Roberts said he also met with Hampton Jitney vice president Andrew Lynch and reported that “he’s very game to help us with this plan.”
The Jitney uses that lot six to 12 times per day, Roberts said. “It drives its buses over our roads. It put up a bus shelter there.
“The Jitney considers us in Greenport a very important partner,” Roberts said.
The village would become the sole tenant of the MTA, which “doesn’t like the fact that it has many different tenants.”
The railroad museum and its parking lot would not be included in this arrangement, Roberts said, because the MTA likes having a separate agreement with the railroad museum.
“I propose we become the tenant of the whole site except the railroad museum. We sublet it to the ferry company, keep their rent money of $2,500 a month flowing to the MTA and keep them happy,” the trustee said. A spreadsheet he distributed to the board indicates a “markup” on the ferry lease of $6,000 per year.
“This is the kind of thing the parking study told us we should do. It’s a win for everybody,” Roberts said.
“We’re not the village of 50 years ago, a way station for people on their way to Shelter Island,” he said. “Now Greenport is a destination on its own. People are coming here in droves.”
The village board last night by a 4-0 vote authorized the development of a formal proposal to the MTA as outlined by Roberts.