Parking Meters Vs. Pay Stations

This work for Patch.com I took up the age-old debate: parking meters or pay stations?  Nicely coinciding with my attending my first City Hall meeting!  I’m now practically a font of municipal knowledge!

Parking Meters vs Pay Stations

Madeira Beach’s Board of Commissioners weigh the pros and cons.
The City of Madeira Beach’s Board of Commissioners met Wednesday night, September 14th, with a number of salient issues on the agenda. There was one topic, however, over the installation of parking pay stations, that dominated the night’s discussion; promising to have far-reaching effects throughout the community.
The Commissioners are currently looking into converting the present parking meters found around town to pay stations.  While still in the planning stages, the Board’s current plan is for a limited, initial rollout.  Looking into converting Archibald Park Beach or the meters at John’s Pass first, the Commissioners faced myriad concerns.

The biggest concern was over the number of pay stations that would be needed.  Commissioner Nancy Oakley reported that “[she had] talked to a number of parking attendants” about  the total number of pay stations that would be needed.  While the pay stations’ company representative recommended nine stations, both attendants Commissioner Oakley had talked to felt three was a more viable option.  Causing Commissioner Oakley to recommend that the Board “split the difference [and install] five.”

Interim City Manager Bill Mallory felt the city “should [install] more [stations] than… is required.  Pointing out that installing additional stations would help in getting city-wide compliance.  With each pay station costing upwards of $10,000 apiece, the need to find the proper balance was stressed.

Mallory also urged the Commissioners to research how the meter to station transition played out in other cities.  Noting that “the transitions aren’t always smooth,” before noting that Sarasota’s conversion was actually halted due to the resulting public outcry.  Mallory warning that consideration would have to be taken so that not only local residents know about the stations, but also Madeira Beach’s considerable tourist traffic.
Concern was then voiced by resident Dick Lewis over whether a proper cost/benefit analysis had been completed before the Commissioners had green-lighted the project.  Mr. Lewis pointing out that the expensive pay stations come with a limited warranty (1-year), with additional coverage available at additional yearly costs, while the units would still be highly susceptible to hurricanes.

Mayor Palladeno chimed in here, pointing out that while the stations do have a steep price tag, they would also save the city a considerable amount of money.  These saving s coming through money no longer being spent “on batteries and maintenance on the individual parking meters.”  Additional savings coming from no longer having to employ personnel to unload the meters’ money.  Palladeno reassuring the Board that the stations are removable in case of severe storms; giving Key West as the prime example of a city that’s been successful in protecting their investment.

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