Port Authority board member Celestino White Sr. expressed concern over disability spaces for the new transportation center parking garage at the Cyril E. King Airport during Wednesday’s board meeting, saying he should have voted “no” at last month’s meeting over the allocation of parking spaces for car rental companies.
Last month, White, along with board members Joseph Boschulte, Derek Gabriel, Lionel Jacob, Willard John, Kevin Rodriguez, and Leona Smith, voted to approve non-exclusive car concession agreements for Budget, Hertz, and Avis while granting some additional parking spaces to the companies. Member Ariel Smith was the only person to vote against it.
According to Director Carlton Dowe, there will be a public meeting on Aug. 23 to discuss “rates and fees” for the King Airport parking garage and transportation center.
“We expect in a few months to open up the first phase of the transportation center,” said Dowe. “It will not be the entirety but it will help the traveling public as well as people that work at the King Airport.”
He added that at least 50 percent of the parking garage is expected to be open by mid-November. The second and third floors will be made available to the public but no rental cars will have access to the structure during this time.
Concerns about parking spaces for disabled persons were raised by White during the meeting as it was during last month’s. Five spaces will be provided for disabled persons on the second floor and White displayed that more should be made available.
Dowe said that the primary way of entering public parking in that garage starts primarily from the street and goes right into the garage on the second floor. He added that elevators and disabled parking spaces will be available for the public on the second floor.
“It’s not insurmountable to try and carve out a few of those spaces, recognizing the challenges some might have,” Dowe said regarding parking spaces on the first floor. But highlighted public parking is reserved on the second and third floors.
Kevin Rodriguez said that the number of spaces for disabled persons is more than the national standard, as three disabled spaces are required per 100 spaces.
Additionally, concern over the fees for parking was raised. White asked the board to consider price matching the King Airport parking with the Fredericks Marine parking, which has a smaller fee.
“You want to move the airport to $20,” said White regarding the day-long parking fee. “Why not to $15 to match Red Hook?”
“Well, what you have to do is look at some of the comparisons and the fact that we still have debt, even at Red Hook, to pay,” replied Dowe.
Chairman Willard John said that $20 a day is a reasonable fee, given that the authority spent millions on the parking garage. The collected fees will assist in recouping the money spent.
Member Derek Gabriel said that the Port Authority can always amend the parking structure and fees after receiving comments from the public.
During the meeting, the board voted to amend the Aviation Tariff Supplement and increase parking fees at the King Parking Garage and Transportation Center. Member Smith abstained and White voted not to approve it.
Members Derek Gabriel, Willard John, Keving Rodriguez, Ariel Smith, and Celestino White were present.