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Some Queens businesses fight Muni-Meter installation

January 18, 2012 2:16:45 PM PST
New York City is on a mission to replace parking meters in Queens with Muni-Meters.

The idea is to speed up turnover on busy streets, but some are worried it could be bad for business.

Portions of the borough, like Austin Street in Forest Hills, got rid of their old meters some time ago. But on Jamaica Avenue, the old single-space meters line the street. Now, there are plans to tear them out and replace them. And not everyone is happy about it.

Muni-Meters are the standard parking method in Manhattan, roughly one box per block. Drivers pay, then put the receipt on the dashboard.

Jamaica Avenue may soon look the same - out with the old, in with the new. But many say that may not be a good thing.

"It's not fair to us," said Maria Thomson, of the Woodhaven Business Association. "The small businessmen cannot sustain these costs. And maybe in Manhattan, but not here in the outer boroughs. It's a different situation here."

The concern is the ability of the city to more easily raise rates. Right now, drivers get 15 minutes for a quarter. But Muni-Meters in Manhattan range from 25 cents for 10 minutes to 50 cents for 10 minutes.

Some Woodhaven businesses are struggling, including one storefront that has been vacant for a year, and diner owner Paul Vasiliadis says it's been tough over the past three years to make a profit.

He fears the switch to Muni-Meters will scare customers away.

"One is confusion for my patrons," he said. "You know, time constraint. If they have to walk to the end of the block to refill their meters, they're going to always feel like they have to rush."

The DOT says there are distinct advantages to the Muni-Meters, including clearing the sidewalks and the ability to pay with a credit card. Officials hope to have the installation complete by June.

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