If you frequently park in downtown New Canaan for work, shopping or dining, there’s good news: New parking machines are being installed Thursday at Morse Court and Park Street lots (two apiece), with single machines going to Locust Avenue, the Playhouse and Center School lots.
The solar-powered Parkeon Strada Pal Rapide model machines will be a significant improvement over the old machines, according to New Canaan Parking Bureau Superintendent Stacy Miltenberg.
“They are an improvement because the instructions are right on the screen and walks people through each step, the screens are larger, in color and will be easier to see even in direct sunlight,” Miltenberg told NewCanaanite.com. “Since [the parking machine company is] located in New Jersey, communication from the machines will be quicker as well as contact with the company will always be done during regular business hours. I believe they will be more user friendly overall.”
Miltenberg added that the new machines will still take coins (nickels, dimes and quarters) as well as credit cards. The 7-inch screens will show the rates, the maximum amount of time each vehicle is permitted to park in the lots, minimum coin and credit card amounts, and enforcement hours. There are two changes, however, that drivers should be aware of.
“The Main Street lot will go from a two-hour maximum time payment to a three-hour maximum time payment and Locust lot will increase from 25 cents an hour to 50 cents an hour,” Miltenberg said.
Town officials voted to approve a $53,303 contract for the new machines, which includes a $315 monthly management fee after testing different models last summer and ultimately deciding on the Parkeon model.
The old machines caused frustration among shoppers and diners in downtown New Canaan because the payments instructions were deemed by users as difficult to follow.
“We see people frustrated in parking lots, trying to figure out the machines, whether it’s that the LED is not bright enough or conflicting communications in terms of instructions, it’s not a good experience,” First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said last summer during the parking machine test.
When asked whether a significant amount of violations issued for non-payment of space could be attributed to the old machines not functioning properly, Miltenberg said that it had more to do with people having trouble working the machines.
“Most people did not read the instructions that were listed above the screen on the current machines and just started to press buttons, which eventually led to issues with payments,” she said. “These new machines will be more user friendly. The instructions will appear right on the screen.”
Prior to the contract’s final approval, Tucker Murphy, executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, commended the first selectman’s office for its responsiveness to the issue.
“We know the current machines are a thorn in everybody’s side and they did not work with the effectiveness that we wanted them to, and we are happy that the town is taking action to replace them with better, more user-friendly models,” Murphy said.