Automated garagesefficiently storing cars via computer instruction, not human handwere depicted by their builders this week as an ideal answer to downtown Mamaronecks parking woes.
Environmentally friendly and self-financed through parking fees, automated garages are safer andcar for carsmaller than their conventional counterparts, a short line of industry representatives told the board of trustees in a Wednesday evening presentation.
But, a far longer line of residents quickly followed, asking not only whether high-tech garages are the answer, but also whether theres a problem to begin with. Some speakers maintained that sufficient spaces exist now, if not necessarily in the specific location a driver may want. Others, while urging a more down-to-earth resolution of so fundamental a business district headache, nevertheless applauded the consideration of a space-age response.
Mayor Norman S. Rosenblumwho has pressed for downtown parking solutions including parking garage constructioninvited Wednesdays speakers: Larchmont lawyer Donald S. Mazin, builder Harry J. Seymour and Yair Goldberg, North American systems director for Unitronics Inc., a Fort Lee, N.J.-based supplier of automated parking garages.
Calling his companys systems, valet parking without the valet, Goldberg guided board members through the mechanics of storing the family roadster. You pull into the parking structure and drive your car into a large room, he said, not unlike pulling into a garage. Taking your keys, you stop by one machine to get a ticket that identifies your ride. After that, the computer takes over, assigning a destination space and setting in motion the electromechanics to take it there. On your return, you insert the ticket into a pay machine, settle your account and watch as your car reappears in the garage, ready to be driven away.
If youre lucky, Goldberg quipped, you get [back] a Corvette instead of your Honda.
Seymour, the New Jersey-based builder said the group would propose two parking structures, each with about 200 cars. A 45-foot high structure would rise on Phillips Park Road behind the movie theater and another, 24-feet high, would go up on Spencer Place. The latter would also contain 10,000 square feet of commercial or office space, perhaps for consolidated village offices. Construction costs would be retired, he said, through parking fees and a shared public/private operation of one garage.
Nevertheless, the proposal was greeted skeptically. Douglas Dunaway, for instance, questioned the impact of even a 24-foot structure on neighboring property values. You need to look at the quality of life of the residents who live there, he said, drawing applause in the crowded courtroom.
Like other residents, Dunaway urged a go-slow approach as the village looked at building garages. Specifically, he recommended bringing in an independent consultant to assess the true extent of parking demand. Rather than an insufficient number of total spaces, he suggested, the problem, is everyone wants to park on Mamaroneck Avenue, right in front of where theyre going.
Others agreed, including Leon Potok in a letter to the board urging careful study of supply and Nancy Wasserman in a statement Wednesday evening.
Village Planning Board member Lee Wexlerwho studied village parking issues as part of his work on a comprehensive plan in the last decadesaid he was pleasantly surprised to see Wednesdays high-tech proposal, calling it cool.
Still, he said, For a village, I think on-street parking is best, contrasting Mamaronecks cozy curbside spaces with the cold high-rise structures that characterize parking in White Plains, for example. If we want to free up spaces on Mamaroneck Avenue, he said, we need to raise the price of parking.
Wexler urged the board to study the conclusions reached in the comprehensive plan, still not adopted since its completion in 2008. Dont let all that effort go to waste, he implored the members. It was just a couple of years ago.
Steven Josephsonowner of the Toy Box on West Boston Post Road and President of the Mamaroneck Chamber of Commercespeaking on behalf of the villages restaurateurs and retailers, said he was, very much in favor of the parking.
Rosenblum described Wednesdays gathering as an initial presentation, saying, How we proceed remains to be seen. Its not something thats going to be decided upon now.