GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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April 12, 2013

Officials eye new parking meters

ROCKPORT — With the $55,000 approved at Saturday’s Annual Town meeting, officials are looking to fast track the installation of new parking meters — and increase the town’s parking rates to reel in added revenue as well.

During a Board of Selectmen workshop on Tuesday, officials gathered to discuss the possibility of raising the rates of parking in the town, where new meters should go and what types of parking meters should be used.

The first of four steps calls for replacing 111 of the 270 meters in town, but the total project would be completed throughout a four-year process, officials say.

Police Chief John “Tom” McCarthy said the first areas would be the same one used in a pilot program last year.

Meanwhile, the parking meter rate charge has remained at 50 cents an hour four about nine years, but town leaders are looking to boost that to $1 an hour in conjunction with the new meters.

The town saw $172,475 in revenue in 2012 from the pilot program, up about $35,000 from 2011.

McCarthy said the gain was not solely due to the new meters or additional use; the 90-day pilot program utilized late last summer and into fall had also included an increased parking rate to one dollar an hour.

He noted the pilot program was largely successful, the only real complaints came from confusion about times and areas the meters were active — running from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Officials weighed the pros and cons of kiosks and meters during the workshop.

Selectwoman Sarah Wilkinson said that, from her own experience, parking kiosks are not always user friendly, while some often break down and are not readily repaired.

“It’s a total pain in the neck,” she said.

Selectman Wilhelmina Sheedy-Mores, however, said kiosks might serve some areas in town better than others, they would allow more room on narrow sidewalks.

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