Hamilton parking meter kiosks may start charging in March

New parking meter kiosks are almost ready to go in Hamilton, and they may be activated to start taking money as soon as March 1.

Rich Engle, the city’s director of engineering, emphasized “that’s a tentative date at the moment.” The kiosks now have signs on them, alerting motorists, “Pay Station Not In Use.”

Engle said officials met last week to discuss possible rates, but he’s not yet disclosing those “because we haven’t even talked to city council about it yet.”

City staff has the ability to set rates on a trial basis for 120 days, and that likely will be the process officials use, Engle said. The discussion about rates likely will happen at a February council meeting.

Before the kiosks go live, technicians will have to make a visit and activate the software within the devices. Also before the kiosks start charging for parking, city staff plans to speak one-on-one with business operators about them.

“They’re already onboard,” Engle said. “We had talked to them previously, before we even went through the process of purchasing the multi-space meters.”

Eight kiosks, which cost $85,000, have been installed on Dayton Street and Riverfront Plaza — the streets immediately north and west of the new Marcum development of apartments, a bar, hair salon and apartments — as well as High Street.

City Manager Joshua Smith last year told council the kiosks were installed at the request of restaurants and shops who were concerned about people who were parking their vehicles and leaving them several hours without moving.

That can be a significant problem, Smith said, because when some motorists driving past a business don’t see an empty space close to that shop or restaurant, they keep driving.. Parking spaces in front of businesses aren’t meant to be used by commuters who work in the area and leave their vehicles in the same place the entire work day, as they have been in recent years, he said.

Hamilton’s downtown and Main Street areas have increasingly become busier, boosting the need for the kiosks, officials have said.

When a driver pays at one of the kiosks, which serve several parking spaces, the machines print a receipt that lists the date and when the paid time for the parking space expires. Drivers have to put the receipts behind their windshields so parking enforcers can read them.

Officials have said if the machines work well, they may buy more in the near future.

Smith has emphasized city government will not profit from the parking enforcement. In June, a new “public service technician” was hired at $40,893 per year to check meters and write citations. That was the first time Hamilton had a full-time employee in any similar role since December of 2017, marking a return to that level of enforcement.

The city’s only goal, Smith has said, is to recover its parking expenses, such as the salary of the parking enforcer, the kiosks and maintenance of those machines.

Engle said Hamilton staff were visited by Cincinnati parking officials, who offered their expertise on where to place the meters.

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