Thursday, January 10, 2013

Parking Rate Increase Still Months Away

By Christina Georgiou

Easton's City Council approved an increase in metered parking rates from 50 cents an hour to a dollar per hour in December, and the law officially will take effect on Jan. 11, but the motorists aren't likely to be charged at the new rate until April, officials said Wednesday evening.

"We need to buy the (new smart) meters and install them," said City Administrator Glenn Steckman, estimating that the city will actually begin charging the new rate and enforcing extended hours--from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays--beginning on April 1.

Switching to the new hours and rates isn't something the city can accomplish overnight, Steckman noted.

"You're talking about 500 to 600 meter heads here," he said.

Not all the Downtown parking meters will be converted to smart meters that accept credit cards, Steckman said--those will be placed at the busiest locations.

Meters in areas further from the commercial center of Downtown will be electronic Duncan meters, though those still need to be recalibrated to reflect the new rates. They also will get stickers to indicate the new hours of operation.

The city will also change the older meters batteries more frequently--every three months instead of every six months--to hopefully cut down on inoperative devices, the city administrator said. The city is also considering adding a phone number on the meters' stickers that people can call to report problems or inoperative devices, he added.

City parking lots will also be converted to central pay-box systems in the coming weeks. The parking lot pay boxes will be installed soon by city public works employees, Steckman said.

Those boxes, along with the new smart meters, will display the rates and hours of operation automatically, once placed.

"They'll have everything you need to know," Steckman said.

He estimated the converting the whole parking system over to the new rates and hours will take city workers a total of 30 to 40 days, barring bad weather.

"If we get a foot of snow, all bets are off on certain things, " he said.

Mayor Sal Panto said the city will be communicating with Easton Main Street and the Easton Business Association to keep city businesses in the loop about the coming changes, and that the city doesn't plan to take a hard line on enforcement as the new system is implemented.

"The first couple of weeks, we'll (have parking enforcement officers) give warnings after 6 p.m.," Panto said.

No comments:

Post a Comment