The patrons of restaurants on Main Avenue soon should be able to reload their cars’ parking meters for another hour without having to leave their plate of spaghetti or sushi.
They will touch an app on their smartphone to add more time.
If restaurant patrons are extremely tardy, Councilor Dean Brooke said jokingly, they might also get a “picture of your car getting towed.”
The wonders of new parking-meter technology were extolled during a “show and tell” for the City Council on Tuesday. A digital screen on the meters even will flash specially programmed messages, such as “no payment necessary for the Fourth of July parade.”
These machines, which can accept payment from credit cards as well as old-fashioned pocket change, are expected to be in place sometime in August.
The biggest potential for delay is not so much the machines, which will replace the current meters on the same poles downtown, but the transfer of data from the old system to the new, officials said.
After a bidding process, the city awarded a $300,000 contract to Duncan Solutions to replace the current meters that have become so obsolete that their replacement parts are no longer available.
The ease of convenience and higher rates of the new meters are supposed to increase parking turnover downtown and generate more revenue for long-term needs such as a city parking garage.
The new rates are expected to increase annual parking revenue by $141,320.
Whenever the new meters are installed, consumers will have to pay an average hourly rate increase of 43 percent. The composite rate would go up from 42 cents an hour to 60 cents an hour.
The more expensive meters will be along Main Avenue, which will take credit cards.
Meters more than a half block from Main won’t take credit cards but will accept prepaid smart cards, which will replace the current key system, as well as payments from the smartphone apps, which must be set up by the consumer.