No free parking and kiosks throughout downtown are the hallmarks of a proposal put forth by the City of Warren's parking committee.
But what will that really look like should city council grant the proposal its blessing?
And how soon could it be reality?
More details fleshed out
in downtown parking plan
City Intern Gregory Wilson provided insight into those issues in an interview with the Times Observer on Thursday.
He explained approximately 40 kiosks would be placed throughout the downtown area. "They go on the public sidewalk," he said.
The committee has recommended that the fee for parking be in effect from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Why kiosks? To avoid a "wall of meters. Kiosks replace meters, one for about every eight to 10 spaces," he said.
And you wouldn't be limited to the nearest kiosk to your parking place. "You can go to any kiosk in the downtown area," Wilson said, noting that they are linked electronically.
Such a format would no doubt be a significant change to how downtown functions and, Wilson said, "I think that you do have to ensure, we have budgeted for significant signage for the downtown area."
He explained one set of signs would state that the area is a fee parking area and remind individuals to note their license plate, which they will enter into the kiosk to pay for their parking time. Another set of signs would be located above the kiosks to make them more visible.
The kiosks themselves come in both solar and electric models. While the solar model is slightly more expensive, Wilson said, "the benefits of the solar... is that you don't have to do a lot of the installation of electrical lines" to power the kiosks. He said that would entail cutting curbs which would be "cost prohibitive" as well as damaging to areas such as the first Streetscape area, which was the result of a significant investment.
That would also keep infrastructure costs to realize this proposal fairly minimal.
"The purchase of kiosks would be the primary outlay for the project," he said. "The second largest would be the hand-held scanners (used by parking enforcement to track license places)" as well as signage and "appropriate painting."
Other questions about the proposal, such as whether there would be a minimum time to be purchased and a timeline if council approves the plan at its April meeting, just can't be answered yet.
For the minimum time, Wilson said it would come down to the kiosk supplier and the specific software selected. Regarding timeframe, it is "really dependent on the bidding or Costars (state contract) process and the turn-around time it would take for any of the suppliers to actually bring in and install the machines. For any of the suppliers, part of the cost of purchase is installation itself. It depends on when they could get here for that."
While no downtown parking would be free under the proposal, residential permit control is part of the committee's recommendation should such issues arise.
Wilson said a residential permit would have a $1 processing fee through the kiosk. Who would pay that $1 isn't yet clear but it is possible that a nominal fee could be instituted for residential permits to residents.
Whether it would take one resident, or a group of residents, to approach council for a block to be permitted, Wilson said that "council in any decision it makes would have to take the total general area into consideration. If one resident came to council... council would investigate to see if others wanted it that way. If 20 of 20 (residents of a street) come, council would do due diligence. There may be areas where that is a concern and there are areas that aren't."
Council has a work session scheduled for next Wednesday, April 16, at 6 p.m. to digest the proposal.