Great Neck Plaza an exception to allowing valet parking

Great Neck Plaza an exception to allowing valet parking
Williston Park is one of several villages on the North Shore that does not bar valet parking. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

When Element Seafood on South Station Plaza in Great Neck Plaza shut down last month, business owners commented that a lack of valet parking might have contributed to its fall.

But, Trustee Gerry Schneiderman said, the village has little choice in the matter.

“If there were a way we could do [valet parking] legally, believe me, we would be doing it,” Schneiderman said, recalling an experiment with it as a “total disaster.”

Of the 29 villages in Blank Slate Media’s coverage area, Great Neck Plaza is the only one to ban valet parking, according to an analysis of village codes.

Two villages – Port Washington North and Roslyn – require businesses to secure annual conditional use permits, show signs and avoid causing significant disruptions, while Sands Point mandates valet parking in situations involving 30 or more vehicles.

The 25 other villages in the Port Washington, Great Neck, Manhasset, Roslyn, Williston and New Hyde Park areas do not have laws explicitly targeting valet parking, according to village codes available online.

Palma Torrisi, the village clerk of Port Washington North, said the village has an “interface between commercial and industrial and residential zones,” which can sometimes lead to trouble.

Consequently, she said, the village decided to regulate valet parking in July 1991 to deal with a restaurant that was running cars up and down a residential street.

“Since then it’s been totally, utterly and completely quiet,” Torrisi said, noting that there was a three- to four-month adjustment period after the law was passed.

Schneiderman said that the situation in Great Neck Plaza is different.

He said that Great Neck Plaza – about a third of a square mile and home to around 7,000 people – is more crowded than Roslyn, which also has more parking lots off the main street and less need for valet parking.

“Wider streets” are needed to make valet parking work, he said, as a single car double parking is enough to halt traffic.

So, when the village tried allowing valet parking in the 1990s, Schneiderman said, three problems arose: cars clogging traffic on the tight streets, illegal U-turns on Middle Neck Road and questions on where the cars could be parked.

“I think we did it just once and we found it was an absolute, total disaster,” Schneiderman said.

When asked about how some older people in Great Neck Plaza might not be able or willing to walk in blazing heat or in the snow, Schneiderman reiterated that it’s a “safety issue” and that the village would allow for valet parking if it could.

The Village of Roslyn, which is about 0.6 square miles, is home to about 2,856 people as of 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This translates to a density of about 4,600 people per square mile.

Port Washington North, which is half a square mile, is home to 3,228 people as of 2016, with a population density of 6,300 people per square mile.

Great Neck Plaza, with an estimated population of 7,003 living within 0.3 square mile, has a population density of about 22,000 people per square mile.

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