Patchogue Village officials watched on Wednesday morning as construction crews began tearing away at an old bank drive-thru that’s being demolished for more public parking.
Mayor Paul Ponteiri and Trustee Jack Krieger said the downtown area is about 200 to 300 spots away from being able to accommodate most visitors and workers, on most days.
“It’s not like we’re looking to build parking for Alive After Five,’ Krieger said.
“It goes to the old adage, Pontieri added, “you don’t build a church for Easter Sunday.”
The long-vacant drive-thru building on Church Street was acquired by the village for $94,000 in June.
It’s estimated that up 40 parking stalls, though possibly closer to 30, will be built at that location. The demolition work is costing $11,550. The cost to build the parking lot has yet to be determined.
The money for the property and the construction is all coming from the village’s parking meter program, Krieger said. The meters were installed last year, when the village designated some spots as paid parking while leaving others free.
That program — which is being suspended for the holiday shopping season — generated just over $250,000 from June 2014 to June 2015, officials said.
Krieger said the end game is to use the meter money to build more and more parking, first with surface parking since it’s much cheaper than building a parking garage.
“A parking garage will run you $30,000 a stall,” Krieger said.
The village is in negotiations to buy up more properties on Church Street.
Ultimately, the village envisions extending the Church Street parking lot further south, where five residential buildings exist now.
The lot would then stretch from South Ocean Avenue to Railroad Avenue, with Church Street itself becoming more a part of the parking lot than an actual roadway.
“You wouldn’t really need [Church Street],” Krieger said. “When you think about it. This lot is servicing probably about 10 restaurants” as well as The Emporium music hall.
“That’s a lot for a Friday night, especially considering the amount of employees,” he said.
In the meantime, Pontieri said the village will likely build a stockade fence to lessen impacts on the neighbors to the immediate west, where one resident raised concerns about the lot Wednesday morning.
“There needs to be a buffer,” said the neighbor, Joanne Heiss.
As for free parking initiative during the holidays — the program runs from Friday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Jan. 3 — Pontieri is urging area workers to park as far away from the downtown shops as possible, pointing to issues before the meter program.
“My hope is that the business owners and employees don’t get back into the bad habit of parking on Main Street,” Pontieri said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story indicated the cost to build the new parking spots is $11,550. That amount is for the demolition and cleanup at the property alone.
Top photo: Crews clearing brush and concrete around the old bank drive-thru on Church Street Wednesday morning. (Michael White)