New owners won’t raise deck parking rates LAZ foresees 24/7 access to facility
Nothing will change right away when LAZ Parking takes over the downtown parking deck today.
“The plan right now is to keep the rates intact,” said Stathis Manousos, the Connecticut-headquartered company’s regional manager and vice president of business development. “We’ll revisit that with the city as soon as we’re able to install a new parking system.”
Manousos said the flexible parking system, which can take long-term passes or issue short-term tickets, has been ordered but likely won’t be installed until spring.
Manousos said he believes the locals want an “affordable short-term rate.” The maximum would remain $3 a day, with an hourly rate capping there. One dollar an hour was thrown out as a possible short-term rate. He said they might also do some sort of merchant-validation program through which shoppers can get the first hour for free.
“That’s going to involve further discussion with the city,” he said. “We want to be part of the merchant community. It’s going to be important to get their buy-in.”
While the hours won’t change right away and the company only plans to staff the deck from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Manousos said the long-term plan is to keep it open 24-7. In the meantime, he said, the company will make sure the deck stays open during late-running events at the Paramount Theatre.
“Our intention is not to have anyone locked in,” he said.
Manousos was one of three LAZ executives in town Friday to interview prospective staff for the garage.
“We are hiring five employees,” regional vice president Jim Marzi said. “Maintenance is approximately 20 or 30 hours, maybe 40 hours. The rest is customer service.”
As for security, Marzi said LAZ expects to work closely with the Rutland City Police Department.
The state is finding other jobs for staff employed at the deck, Marzi said, and the company is looking to hire locally. After considering bringing an existing staff member up from Connecticut to run the deck, Marzo said they instead decided to find people within the local community and, if necessary, “teach them the parking business.”
Marzi said when he saw the request for proposals in Rutland, he zoomed in on it.
“Why Rutland?” he said. “The truth? I am a Vermonter by blood and heart. ... I’m in Vermont every weekend. ... We were pretty amazed. All our competitors were involved in that bid process.”
Marzi said the main differences between what LAZ will do and how the state ran the deck will have to do with equipment and technology, but the company will also market the deck.
“It sounds like the garage has a bad rap,” he said. “We’re going to invest our fees into a marketing strategy, get a name onto the facility, put in some wayfinding.”
In line with their efforts to hire local staff, Marzi said LAZ would like to work with a Vermont-based marketing firm.
On top of that, Marzi said the company will be able to keep the deck cleaner and will continue the lighting upgrade begun by the state.
“This is what we do all day long,” he said. “It doesn’t sound exciting, but we do it.”
gordon.dritschilo @rutlandherald.comMORE IN World/National Business
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