Tensions were high inside a packed board room of the Hertel Business Association, as stakeholders voiced their concerns and frustrations about the parking meter changes coming to North Buffalo.
Several area business owners are against the plans to extend paid parking hours to 9 p.m. Others are simply confused about the plans, saying they have received little information from the City about what to expect.
"It's very ill-conceived," said Tom Eoannou, owner of the North Park Theatre.
Eoannou believes the new parking regulations would essentially "destroy" the North Park Theatre. He said the new parking meters would limit parking to two hours.
“You can’t go to dinner and then attend a movie at the North Park in two hours or less," Eoannou said.
Currently, parking meters in the Hertel Avenue Business District are in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. With these new changes, motorists will be required to pay for parking up until 9 p.m. The City will also be adding meters to two City-owned parking lots on Hertel - both of which will also adhere to these extended hours.
Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer has said this is consistent with the city's effort to move traffic and increase turnover.
Councilman Joel Feroleto said the additional revenue will be put back into the neighborhood and monitored by a new five-member board that will consist of city officials and local business owners who will collectively determine how the money will be spent to beautify the neighborhood.
However, area resident Alexus Scott is nervous about how these changes will impact the neighborhood she lives in.
“I think they definitely need to consult with the business owners and the residents in the area. I don’t think that was done prior to this decision,” Scott said.
A petition has been circulating to stop the new parking regulations.
Lisa Samar, owner of Daisy's Doghouse on Hertel Avenue, is hopeful that Tuesday's meeting will prompt changes to the proposed plans before they go into effect.
“From this meeting, and from the anger and animosity, I think that what they’ve got proposed right now is not going to be the answer, as far as I can tell.”
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