Village of Potsdam may purchase 25 parking kiosk machines that cost nearly $10,000 each
BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
POTSDAM — Residents and shoppers who have plotted out all of the coin-jammed and broken parking meters in the village business district for free parking spots may end up losing out if the village goes through with a plan to buy parking kiosk machines to replace the downtown meters.
However, the plan to install kiosks could cost taxpayers as much as $10,000 per kiosk.The village has been discussing the issue with kiosk supplier IPS Group. IPS is recommending the village install 25 kiosks based on the 100 paid parking spaces the village currently has in the downtown area slated for an overhaul under the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The downtown streetscape project would provide a natural opportunity to upgrade its parking situation during the course of the work.
Village officials say the recommendation of 25 kiosks from IPS would probably change once the village takes a closer look at what its downtown parking needs may entail.
IPS has supplied kiosks for the City of Plattsburgh. The devices allow drivers to pay for a parking ticket by coin, cash or credit card, and cover multiple parking spots in an area.
“We have been discussing getting rid of the parking meters and going with kiosks,” said Deputy Mayor Steve Warr at the village board meeting Sept. 5.
Village Administrator Greg Thompson said village officials recently had a meeting on the issue.
“Do you know where we are with that?” Warr asked.
“We still have to do more investigating. We found out the pricing model for what they cost, how many spaces they can cover. We’ve looked at the streets that are going to be torn up through the DRI to have a sense of, you know look, here's some of the sidewalk infrastructure that’s coming out anyway this would be the opportunity to make a swap. Now would be the time to know or think ahead. I believe the overall number we are looking at now would be 100 spaces,” said Trustee Alexandra Jacobs Wilke.
Thompson said the company recommends the village purchase 25 kiosks at between $8,000 and $10,000 each, a total cost which could climb as high as $250,000.
Warr said in communities like Lake Placid which use parking kiosks, visitors to the business district may walk 150 yards to the kiosk to get a parking ticket and walk back to put on their car, but they have a longer street with only eight kiosks.
Wilke pointed out that Lake Placid’s model would not be the same as Potsdam’s. She said the village needs a committee to walk and map out spaces and develop recommendations customized for Potsdam’s situation.
She said IPS also provides parking meters which may work better for situations like Fall Island with only a few spaces where a kiosk installation may not make sense.
“But we always could just transfer the good ones (existing parking meters). But as you know so many are in disrepair,” she said.
“And they are 500 bucks a piece and we have close to 200 of them,” Warr said.
“And many are in disrepair, they are unsightly,” Wilke said.
IPS’s recommendation of 25 kiosks didn’t square with Warr’s count. He said the village basically has three major parking lots which would each get a kiosk. “And then four additional ones for the main streets where we have parking. What are they talking about?” Warr said.
Thompson said Mark Berling, the regional sales representative for IPS, suggested the village could phase in parking kiosks perhaps just in the Market Street corridor at first. Then when the village has recouped a certain percentage of its investment into the machines, the municipality could invest in additional kiosks for the other areas.
“There are options. We need to discuss this as a board and come up with a plan,” Thompson said.
Wilke said the village should take a “holistic” look at all the parking in the village, some of which will change with the new Brooks Street project and Sandstone Mural walk area work facilitated through the DRI.
“We need to think about traffic flow, usage,” Wilke said. “My thought is can we have Eric Backus and his students do a study of actual data this fall which they can do using drones and all kinds of fun things to get a sense of actual parking usage,” Wilke said.
Wilke suggested that a closer look at the situation could lead to changes in which areas are metered. She said however, due to the cost of the kiosks, more research and cost benefit analysis needs to be done on the issue.
Thompson said he was in favor of the kiosks which would cut down winter snow removal time by half in the downtown area where DPW crews are now forced to work around the existing parking meters. He also said he thought that the visual impact of parking meters downtown was negative for a village like Potsdam looking to attract downtown shoppers and visitors.
“I think we just need to come up with a more definitive plan with how we are going to install them,” Thompson said.