Non-Resident Commuters Peeved

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The Manhasset Park District is looking to preserve conditions of existing properties and raise funds for future acquisitions by charging commuters without resident passes $5 to park in railroad lots on weekends. In turn, some are outraged by the $70 tickets they received for failing to pay the fee.
Mark Sauvigne, chairman of the park district, said commissioners covered their bases by posting a sign at the entrance of the main lot off of Plandome Road (one of eight signs around the parking area according to David Paterson, another park district commissioner), placing notices in newspapers, informing the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations Inc. and issuing warnings to offenders throughout August.
Still, North Hills resident Nancy Levenson said the sign – situated to the right of the entrance – is unnoticeable to drivers turning into the lot, especially to those who have been “parking there all this time.”
Levenson left her car for an hour to join her son and daughter-in-law – visiting from Manhattan – for an impromptu trip and returned to a ticket affixed to her car. She now hopes to argue against it, citing improperly placed signage explaining the new mandate.
“We took a picture of where the sign was,” Levenson said. “There was no one to talk to [at the station], and when I got the ticket, I couldn’t imagine what it as for.”
Levenson said the Village of North Hills could have successfully relayed the message to its residents, but upon contacting the mayor’s office, an employee told her that the park district had not informed the village of this change.
Samir Rivera is another driver who did not initially notice the sign or muni meter. “I’m opposed. I don’t like changes,” said the Hempstead resident who frequently boards the train in Manhasset. “Even the sign doesn’t help.”
Marilyn, a North Hills resident who declined to give her last name, is angered by the parking ticket she received last month. She boarded the train for three weeks while her husband received treatment at a Manhattan hospital, but tried to save money on taxicab fare by driving to the station on the last Saturday in August.
Marilyn said she did not notice a sign advertising the new fee but was tipped off by a fellow commuter, and then “wasted 20 minutes” at the muni meter before resting a note on her dashboard stating that it did not work.
“There should be someone helping, at least the first month or two, with the machines. And I work the machines to buy the [train] tickets, so I’m not a dummy, but that machine just didn’t work for me,” Marilyn said, adding that the penalty should be reduced for first time offenders.
Sauvigne said he discussed Marilyn’s situation with a code enforcement officer, who felt compelled to issue the ticket despite the note because other commuters had successfully retrieved receipts from the muni meter that day. Sauvigne also said a specialist from muni meter distributer DEVO & Associates LLC checked the machine for functionality, and reported it as working sufficiently.
Still, Sauvigne said he would use this week’s Board of Commissioners meeting to suggest the placement of two code enforcement officials within the parking lot for the remainder of this month, one to issue tickets and another to help individuals work the muni meter.
The cost of parking tickets, however, is something that Sauvigne said he and his fellow commissioners have little control over, citing county and state surcharges included in the overall penalty. All in all, he expects the park district to net approximately $50,000 per year from the initiative.
Sauvigne said individuals in receipt of tickets have the right to plead not guilty and appear in Nassau County Traffic Court, located in Hempstead, to argue their cases.
This option, however, is troublesome to commuters such as Marilyn. “I have to be with my husband,” she said. “He’s very ill and I cannot leave him.”

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