MONTPELIER — “Smart” parking meters that are high-tech enough to reset themselves when a car leaves a space and to accept payment via credit or debit card or mobile phone will debut soon in Montpelier.
The city’s parking advisory committee has just issued a request for proposals seeking one or more companies to provide a small number of meters for a trial run downtown.
The proposals are due by July 17.
The RFP says the test meters are to be installed by Oct. 1 and remain in place through at least Dec. 1.
According to the RFP, the city will short list up to three possible vendors to each install three meters at undetermined locations in the downtown business core.
After the test period, the city plans to choose a meter system based on its performance during the test, as well as “its receptivity by the general public and the business community” and other criteria, among them features and options, the level of technical and training support from the vendor, and cost.
The city says it plans to sign a five-year purchase agreement with the chosen vendor to upgrade its meters are budgets allow.
The new meters with wireless communication capability will need to accept credit and debit cards, coins and smart cards, the RFP stipulates, and must be able to accept payment via cellphone.
Security of the users’ personal information is an issue the committee has stressed. The request states, “No credit card specific electronic data is to be stored within the parking meter. All transaction information must be encrypted and immediately transmitted for processing.”
The new meters will be powered by battery, solar recharging or a combination.
The parking committee also saw the City Council approve its recommendations this week for regulating the use of meter bags to reserve spaces.
The issue came up this year for the first time after extended construction periods led to some merchant complaints.
The regulations restrict how long meter bags can be used in retail areas and require those requesting them to demonstrate a need. Meter bags cannot be used for general employee or convenience parking or by street vendors.
The director of public works, chief of police or building inspector will need to approve meter bag requests for more than three bags, and a standard $10 fee for each day of use per bag will be charged. In the event of a funeral or nonprofit event, the clerk, police chief, head of DPW or city manager can waive the fee.
At its most recent meeting, the committee discussed parking shortage concerns that are a constant topic in the city, winter parking restriction issues, and more.
Chairman Brian Cain said he wants the committee to be more proactive, adding, “The parking garage from heaven isn’t necessarily going to show up. ... Even if we have a parking garage, that’s not going to be a perfect fit.” The possibility of a new garage has been raised as the city separately develops a transit center on Taylor Street.
A number of possible steps to improve parking, “a culmination of things that will help the parking throughout the city — it’s a little here and a little there — that’s the best way we have chosen to go about it,” he said.
The committee plans to schedule a session to brainstorm ideas and come up with a plan of action.
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