Plan to remove parking in Freeport revs up critics

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FREEPORT -

Many restaurants and businesses along Freeport's Nautical Mile fear a land deal that business owners and residents say would lead to major parking problems there.

Spaces are already scarce in the summer, especially from Thursday to Sunday.

But a developer has plans to buy up 79 parking spaces and replace them with apartments.

"All I can see is a battle down the road pitting residents against the Nautical Mile," says Al Grover, a Freeport resident of 80 years.

And business owners say fewer parking spaces would mean fewer customers.

"We can't lose this parking," says Mike Kaland, who owns the Sea Horse Gift Shop. "It keeps the street alive."

Mayor Robert Kennedy says the project would make financial sense.

"There's hundreds of thousands of dollars of recurring tax revenue that comes back to the village, which is what helps stabilize your taxes," the mayor told opponents of the plan at a Village Hall meeting. "And you haven't had a tax increase in almost four years in the village."

He says there's also a plan to remove an electrical substation -- which would create 53 new spaces -- resulting in a net loss of only 26.

It's unclear when the village might actually sell the controversial land.

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