Asbury Park business owners, workers outraged over proposed parking fee hike

ASBURY PARK (WABC) -- Feeding a parking meter usually involves only a few coins, but drivers in one New Jersey City may need to grab 12 quarters just to park for an hour.

Asbury Park is considering raising the parking fee to a dollar just for 20 minutes.

"There are people who live and work here, and it's become a real problem," one resident said.

Business owners says they are literally breathing life back into Asbury Park's vibrant central business district, and along the waterfront, the number one issue is parking.

"The more people that come to visit to support the bars and restaurants, the less parking there is for the people who live and work here," owner-investor Toni Plantamura said.

Nearly all parking in the busy areas is metered, and workers and business owners have to pay to park. Frank Zrinsky owns a corporate photography shop called Motion City Media.

"I have to pay, and workers have to feed the meter," he said.

Rudy Valentino is director of the Antique Emporium.

"The vendors have to pay for parking," he said. "We are assigned zones, but it's not guaranteed. It's catch as catch can."

City leaders are proposing changes that include raising rates during peak hours and lowering them in less-frequently used parking areas, hoping visitors will use them to leave more premium spots available.

"It's about managing it for 85 percent capacity," said Jaqueline Pappas, with the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce. "And keep people from having to drive around looking for spots."

Every business owner Eyewitness News spoke with said the city needs to build a parking garage and that charging them more to be at work is not the answer.

"It's like, what's in it for us," one owner said. "We've been the ones here, and it's like, they're pushing us aside."

"It was a ghost town when I got here," another added. "It will be again if you push the merchants out."
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