LETTER: On Greenwich Ave, turnover of short-term parking is the life blood of small retailers.

Submitted by John Cooper, Greenwich

My 96-year-old father-in-law lives with my wife and me and enjoys certain foods with regularity. Over the past two weeks I have made trips to our local treasure, the St. Moritz bakery (opened in 1939, on the Avenue since 1960) in search of his beloved Florentine cookies.

For the second time in that period, they had none, so I spoke up. “Any reason you aren’t baking Florentine cookies at the moment?” “Not enough business she replied.”

Sad as it was to hear that, it made sense as it had taken me a fly-by and two trips around the block to get a parking space.  

This wasn’t the owner, just a counter person who knew intimately how slow business has become. When driving the Avenue on such a gorgeous day as today and seeing hundreds of diners seated in what were once parking spots, it hits you.

That’s why the retailers are suffering, there are fewer spaces all the way down the Avenue for shoppers to park.

When a diner grabs a space, that’s it for the full two hours, a leisurely lunch and a drink in the sunshine with no compunction to move. Shoppers, who try to run errands like pick up a prescription, buy some cookies, drop off dry cleaning etc., are likely in a space no more than twenty minutes.

Turnover of short-term parking is the life blood of small retailers. Retailers live on small purchases, unless it’s Betteridge, but the high-end restaurants found on the Avenue can lay down a check for $200 for a table of 4. Oddly, since all the tables came out of doors, the tables inside are empty… until when?  

A solution might be as easy as, for every block of parking spaces 40% should be limited to 30 minutes, the balance to the full two hours.

A group coming to the Avenue could be dropped off at their spot and the driver could make way to Mason or Benedict or other off-the-Avenue parking, walk a few blocks and join their party.

The short-term spots would constantly turn over allowing shoppers to patronize stores suffering from a lack of business. This could work until all this curbside dining is pushed back where it belongs, indoors. Last year it might have made sense, but the exaggerated expansion of street dining this year doesn’t.

The Pandemic is a fact of life going forward and the Avenue needs those spots returned to intended use. I’d hate to lose a local treasure like St. Moritz and if you don’t see it that way, try to get Sarah Bernhardts like theirs anywhere else on earth…