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Patchogue Merchants Worry Downtown Parking Ticket Blitz Is Hurting Business

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The rebirth of Patchogue's downtown might be coming with a price: a parking ticket blitz.

As CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported, some store owners in the Long Island village are complaining that parking enforcement officers are being overly aggressive and driving away business.

One recent customer "came into the store to get change of a dollar to feed the meter, and by the time he got to his car, he had a parking ticket," said Lori Belmonte, who owns The Colony Shop.

"They're not going to come shop (if they) are constantly worried about meters," said Cherie Alleyne, owner of Blum's Swimwear & Intimate Apparel.

The area has seen a revival. Once boarded-up storefronts have been replaced with trendy restaurants, shops and a resurgence of housing.

Main Street parking had been free, but 244 metered spaces went up after the village discovered too many drivers were hogging the spots, never moving their cars.

Deputy Mayor Jack Krieger said there was no place to park and that the meters are the answer.

"Free parking isn't free," he said. "You have to pave them, you have to resurface them, you have to light them, enforce them, keep them safe, plow the snow."

Although there will be hundreds of spots still free, the village will add metered parking in some lots behind the stores.

The Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce hopes adjustments can be made.

"We want people to know that Patchogue is a friendly, welcoming place, and we're so happy to have them here," said David Kennedy, the Chamber's executive director.

Some locals also worry about getting tickets when attending theater shows or eating in restaurants. The limit on meters is 90 minutes. Drivers need to physically feed them or use a smartphone app.

"Unfortunately, I do not have a smartphone," one woman said.

"Am I going to have to run out of a show to put more money into my meter?" said another woman.

But Eric Alexander, director of the planning group Vision Long Island, said, in the long run, smart growth needs parking turnover.

"I think it will ultimately work out," he said. "The key is communication. The key is how it's managed."

Some merchants suggested a parking campaign to inform residents and visitors about the new meters, with first-time violators being sent a friendly warning letter instead of a ticket.

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