That’s a lot of quarters: City Hall will spend $311K on new parking meters |

That’s a lot of quarters: City Hall will spend $311K on new parking meters

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

City Hall is preparing to spend more than $300,000 for a new set of parking meters for Main Street, saying the ones there now are aging and not as technologically advanced as newer models.

It is a purchase that has largely gone unnoticed on a street that was left dismayed when the original meters were bought in the 1990s.

The meters are made by a firm known as Parkeon, the successor to the Schlumberger brand that manufactured the set of Pay and Display meters that are on Main Street now. The 33 replacement meters cost $311,372, and the Park City Council has already set aside the money in the City Hall budget for the purchase. City Hall staffers chose the firm over three others that submitted proposals.

Brian Andersen, who manages the city’s parking program, said he expects the new meters will be installed by the end of November, at the start of the normally busy ski season. They will be a dark shade of gray and placed in the same locations as the ones there now.

"They’re just at the end of their useful life. They’re worn out," Andersen said about the current bunch of meters.

Andersen said there are frequent complaints about the meters on Main Street malfunctioning. He said the Public Works Department is called "fairly regularly" with problems. The Park City Police Department occasionally receives reports about problems with the meters as well, including from people saying a meter did not return their credit card.

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The new meters will accept credit cards, and the payment method will be the same as the card-swipe system that many gas stations use on their pumps, Andersen said in a recent report to Mayor Dana Williams and the City Council. changing the credit card system, there is no longer a chance that a card will become stuck in the machine.

"We definitely think this will be a change that helps our parking patrons, if you will," Andersen said.

They will accept coins, parking tokens and credit cards as payment forms, the same as the current ones. Andersen said two of them will also accept bills as payment.

The old meters will be sold back to the manufacturer to use for spare parts. Andersen said they are worth between $100 and $250 each in the buyback, calling them "just essentially scrap at this point."

There has not been chatter around Park City as City Hall prepares to receive the new meters, a contrast to the dispute that unfolded when the original ones were bought and the paid-parking system was introduced. At that time, many businesspeople on Main Street were bitterly opposed to paid parking, saying that the meters would drive customers away and to other shopping districts where there is free parking.

But Main Street has largely enjoyed a boom era since the parking meters were installed in early 1998, notwithstanding the difficulties wrought by the recession. There has not been widespread angst centered on the paid-parking system in years even as there remains a scattering of detractors.

Jeff Ward, the president of the Historic Main Street Business Alliance, said the group had not discussed the purchase of the parking meters and said the issue has not been talked about in some time. He said the paid-parking system is "established." He said he rarely hears complaints about the meters.

"People see that all over the place. It’s not just Park City," Ward said, adding that paid parking has successfully kept Main Street workers from parking for long stretches in prime spots outside the businesses, an original goal of the system.

He said, meanwhile, the expansion of the China Bridge garage in the intervening years has increased the number of parking spots in the Main Street district, reducing the pressure for space to park.