Is a Harrison Parking Authority forthcoming?



Is there a Parking Authority in Harrison’s near future?

Could be, town officials acknowledged, in the wake of taking legislative steps to generate more income from parking, both from curbside meters and from private lots.

Whether the town will go down the path of a separate authority or a town-controlled parking utility may depend on the extent of enforcement activity and number of personnel needed for that effort, according to Mayor James Fife.

One ordinance introduced July 24 by the Town Council proposes to blanket the area around the PATH station and Red Bull Arena with 500 new parking meters and/or kiosks.

At the same time, another ordinance, also introduced at last month’s council meeting looks to tighten control over collection of an existing parking tax on privately-operated lots.

Here’s a list of streets where Harrison intends to install the additional meters/kiosks:

  • Cifelli Drive (Middlesex St.), both sides, from S. Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. to S. Second St.
  • S. Third St., both sides, from Railroad Ave. to Burlington St., and between Bergen and Essex Sts.
  • Burlington St., both sides, from S. Third to S. Second.
  • Essex St., both sides, from First St. to S. F.E. Rodgers Blvd., and from Seventh St. to S. F.E. Rodgers Blvd.
  • Dey St., both sides, from Harrison Ave. to Warren St., and between Warren and Bergen.
  • S. F.E. Rodgers Blvd., both sides, from Harrison to Bergen.
  • Ann St., in the vicinity of the cul-de-sac, adjacent to the Harrison Public Library.
  • S. Fifth St., both sides, from Sussex St. to Essex.
  • Town Parking Lot under Rt. 280, bounded by S. F.E. Rodgers Blvd., Essex, S. Fifth and the Pennsylvania Railroad.
  • Railroad Ave., south side, from First to S. F.E. Rodgers Blvd.
  • First St., both sides, between Warren and Railroad.
  • S. Second St., both sides, from Essex to its termination south of Burlington.
  • Warren St., both sides, between Dey and First; and beneath the Rt. 280 viaduct.
  • Bergen St., both sides, between First and the Passaic River; and under the Rt. 280 viaduct.
  • Sussex St., both sides, under the Rt. 280 viaduct.
  • Pete Higgins Blvd. (Sixth St.), both sides, between Guyon Drive and Cape May St.
  • S. Fifth St., both sides, between Guyon and Cape May.
  • Riverbend Drive, both sides, between S. F.E. Rodgers Blvd. and Pete Higgins Blvd.
  • Crucible Drive, both sides, between S. F.E. Rodgers Blvd. and Pete Higgins Blvd.
  • Guyon, both sides, between S. F.E. Rodgers Blvd. and Pete Higgins Blvd.
  • Town Parking Lot, north of Red Bull Arena.
  • Cape May N., westerly extension, both sides.
  • N. F.E. Rodgers Blvd., both sides, from Harrison Ave. to the Kearny line.
  • Harrison Ave., both sides, from Passaic Ave. to Schuyler Ave.
  • N. Third St., both sides, from Harrison Ave. to Cleveland Ave.
  • Town Parking Lots under Rt. 280, bounded by Harrison Ave., Hamilton St., N. Second St. and Rt. 280 Ramp A.

Designated parking hours and parking fees are to be determined.

Failure to pay for parking is punishable by a fine of “not less than $25, nor more than $50” for each violation.

The ordinance is up for a public hearing by the Town Council Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at Town Hall.

Town Attorney Paul Zarbetski, who doubles as municipal clerk, said he’s in the process of getting prices on meters and kiosks and deciding whether to go for a state contract or for regular bids.

Zarbetski said the town favors an electronic device “where you punch in your license plate” and the machine “remembers how much time you put in” and prints out a receipt.

“We’re talking to the professionals about the timing aspects,” he said.

Curbside parking around the PATH station, the waterfront redevelopment area and Holy Cross Church, in particular, is at a premium these days and some parking lots have been displaced by the redevelopment activities, said Fife.

Another indication of the week-day vehicular crush is that, typically, “the county [Harrison Parking Center] deck [just behind the PATH] is full by 7:30 a.m.,” Zarbetski noted.

If the ordinance is adopted next month, Zarbetski said the town is targeting the new meters to be installed and working “by the end of the year.”

Meanwhile, the town is gearing up to get a more precise accounting of the money taken in by private parking lot operators which Harrison taxes at the rate of 15% of the total gross.

Right now, the town gets a quarterly parking tax return from the lot owners, Zarbetski said, but, under a proposed amended ordinance, that would switch to a “monthly” filing of the tax.

And, to that end, the ordinance calls for a joint count of all vehicles parked on a given lot to be conducted by a representative of the lot operator and a “town agent.”

Failure to comply can result in a fine of up to $250 for the lot operator.

Zarbetski said the town has no reason to believe that there may be under-reporting by lot operators but “we’re just massaging the procedure” for the optimum outcome.

Financial records provided by town CFO Gabriela Simoes Dos Santos show the town pocketed $242,790 in 2013, $260,541 in 2014, $247,525 in 2015 and $327,220 in 2016.

Currently, according to Zarbetski, there are a total of about 1,800 parking spaces town-wide subject to the tax, excluding the county deck as the county does not pay the tax.

This ordinance is also up for a hearing Sept. 5.

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.