Riverhead Town will hold a public hearing Oct. 4 on a proposed code change that would reduce parking time limits on Main Street from two hours to one hour. Photo: Alek Lewis

Town officials want to reduce parking time limits on Main Street from two hours to one hour to increase the “flow” of the downtown area. The Town Board last week scheduled a public hearing on an amendment to parking rules downtown.

The amendment would affect parking on Main Street, from Ostrander to Osborn Avenues, except for certain marked stalls with 15-minute time limits. It would also remove the 30-minute time limit on the west side of Union Avenue.

The public hearing is scheduled for the board’s regular meeting on Oct. 4 at 2 p.m..

Councilman Tim Hubbard said the change was “a long time coming” and that town officials have been working with the parking district and town business owners for recommendations. The proposed code also reflects a recommendation from the strategic parking plan adopted by the Town Board in 2020 drafted by Sam Schwartz Consulting, a firm based in New York.

“We hope we can get this implemented and then we can start enforcing the parking restrictions that are going to be downtown,” Hubbard said during a Sept. 1 work session discussion on the topic. “Because right now, they’re basically not, because everything is all a mishmash. So once we get the lines all color-corrected to the different parking stalls, then we can go ahead and we can have our code to go in and re-enforce them.”

Deputy Town Attorney Danielle Hurley said future parking code amendments will increase time limits in municipal lots north and south of Main Street.

“That’ll encourage people to park for longer periods in those further lots,” she said.

Hubbard said the Parking District Advisory Committee has allocated money to update signs for the parking changes.

Sam Schwartz is currently updating the 2020 strategic parking plan to include new development proposals downtown, including those proposed for two large public parking lots near the train station. The updated plan will evaluate the 2020 plan’s recommendations “to determine if they are still applicable” and update them as needed. Sam Schwartz was paid $23,000 for the 2020 plan and will be paid $15,0000 for the update. Community Development Director Dawn Thomas said the recommendations reflected in the proposed code amendment will not change with the update to the parking plan.

Thomas said town officials did not immediately act on the changes after the parking plan was adopted in 2020 because of delays related to the coronavirus pandemic. She said the town did not “have the staff needed” to complete the code before Hurley was hired. The town attorney’s office was missing one full-time deputy town attorney at the start of this year for almost three months, after the transition from Robert Kozakiewicz to Erik Howard as town attorney and department head. The Town Board failed to agree in February on a new deputy town attorney when Howard was appointed. Hurley was hired in April.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]