BARRE — Workers and visitors in Barre can expect to see parking meters back on North Main Street by the end of August.
Mayor Thomas Lauzon said the first phase of installing and replacing meters will occur downtown and expand from North Main Street outward to Merchants Row, then parking lots on Elm and Summer streets and lots on Maple Avenue. Lauzon said he hopes to have all 450 new meters in place by the end of October.
The parking meter project is projected to cost $125,000, and Lauzon expects to pay that money back through revenues from the meters after two years. Of the revenue from the 50-cents-an-hour meters, 25 percent will go toward maintenance on the city’s new downtown amenities — for example if a bench needs repair or a dead tree needs replacement.
Lauzon said the “new” downtown hasn’t needed any maintenance yet because it just opened months ago.
“If we fast forward even to a year, something will require maintenance,” he said.
The rest of the revenue will go into the city’s general fund.
Lauzon said the parking meter system has been in disrepair for the past few years. Meters were absent altogether on North Main Street over the past year as the street was under reconstruction. He said the lowest amount of revenue the parking meters have brought in recently was $26,000 in one year. That was unacceptable to Lauzon, who said Montpelier, with less than 450 meters, brings in $700,000 in parking revenue per year, including fines and permits.
Under what is described as a very conservative estimate, the Barre meters are expected to bring in $100,000 annually. Lauzon said that in calculating that number, he estimated that every meter would get used for two hours out of an eight-hour day.
“I know we are going to be higher than that. ... If you look on North Main Street now, I think (the parking spots) are used 100 percent of the time,” he said.
The 50-cents-an-hour rate is double what Barre’s existing meters charge but the same as in Rutland, less than in Brattleboro or Montpelier, where the hourly rate is 75 cents, and half the rate in Burlington.
The meters will be installed by a third-party company because, Lauzon said, city workers have their hands full pouring sidewalks and digging up streets due to all the rain over the past month.
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