COBBLE HILL — PARK Smart, a program to address neighborhood-parking problems, was unanimously approved and passed by the Transportation and Public Safety Committee, Thursday night.
The plan, designed to discourage long-term parkers from feeding the meter, will double the current $2 parking fees for a two-hour slot, but short-term parkers won't pay any extra, according to the Department of Transportation.
The new system will charge 25 cents for 15 minutes and 50 cents for 30 minutes, preserving the existing fares for short-term parkers. At 60 minutes, the rate will increase to $1.50, then $2.50 at 90 minutes and $4 for two hours. PARK Smart will also extend meter limits to two hours in the crowded shopping areas.
The plan will start on Court Street between Atlantic Avenue and Sackett Street, Smith Street between Atlantic Avenue and Sackett Street and Atlantic Avenue from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue - three corridors crammed with shops, restaurants and clothing stores.
PARK Smart will help increase parking availability, as well as reduce double parking and traffic congestion, by changing the metered parking system to a progressive one, in Spring 2013, according to the DOT.
The program “is really aimed at improving turnover to make it as easy as possible to shop on Atlantic Avenue” said Josef Szende, executive director of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District, who originally approached the DOT with the plan last year.
While the merchant’s association only suggested PARK Smart on Atlantic Avenue, the DOT decided to include surrounding commercial streets.
“It just made sense for us to explore further,” said DOT representative Manzell Blakeley during his presentation at the meeting held in Long Island College Hospital.
A DOT representative said the PARK Smart program could be extended further following the six-month pilot or after the evaluation in 2014.
In Park Slope, PARK Smart has received a positive response, despite early “vocal complaints” on the higher fare, said CB 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman. He said he believes that the rates are priced at an appropriate level so demand won’t decrease, but people will think twice before leaving their car at the curb.
On Fifth Avenue in Park Slope, the average time that a car occupies a spot has fallen from an hour and ten minutes to 58 minutes, according to a DOT study.
“The same strategy could be effective in Cobble Hill,” said Hammerman.