Selectmen OK Trial Run Of Smart Parking Meters
Two meters for 17 spaces on Royal Road would bring in +$30K a year.
Bring in the meters!
The Belmont Board of Selectmen announced Monday that they are eager to move forward with a pilot program to bring smart parking meters to Belmont.
After listening to a second presentation on Monday evening, Jan. 24, given by Paul Roberts who conducted a study on how the town can generate revenue from parking spaces – particularly those currently open and free all day that are used by commuters from other towns – the selectmen asked Town Administrator Tom Younger to speak with the Belmont Police Department and the Lions Club to get their reactions and then work on a Request for Proposal.
“Contact my office and let’s go forward with this as soon as possible,” Younger said to Roberts who initially presented his findings on Dec. 20.
According to Roberts’ research, the best location for a pilot program with multi-space meters is Royal Road beside the MBTA commuter rail station in Belmont Center.
And that’s where the selectmen enthusiastically agreed to put the pilot program after first seeking input from the Lions Club – whose headquarters is located in the station – and learning if the members have any objections.
With smart meters costing about $7,000 to $9,000 per unit, and with a life span of about 10 to 12 years, Roberts said his research indicates the town could raise about $30,730 annually in that location with two multi-space meters monitoring 17 spaces at 75 cents an hour for approximately an 8-hour day, six days of the week.
The return on investment would take about seven months and the net revenue to Belmont would be approximately $300,000 in a little over a decade or the lifespan of the meters.
“The devil is in the details,” Roberts advised the selectmen.
“When we get to the RFP, we can decide if we want a warranty, whether we want to maintain the smart meters or let (the company that supplies them) do it.”
As the town gets further along in planning the pilot program, he said, a discussion will be necessary as to illuminating the key pads of the smart meters for hours when it is dark and re-striping Royal Road and putting up signs to indicate the parking spaces cost money to use.
How smart meters work
Dan Kupferman, business development manager of New Jersey-based Parkeon North America – the French international firm that was the first to deliver an on-street solar-powered multi-space meter in the early 1970s – was at the meeting to demonstrate how a smart meter works.
He showed the 11-gage steel unit to the board and pointed out where users would put coins or credit cards; a language button that gives directions in four different languages (if a community should need that feature); and another button that can be used for special rates such as motorcycles and in the case where a ticket might blow away, two receipts can come out of the machine in case the driver needs to produce a receipt.
“The units self report if there is a block (in the coin deposit space) or any tampering with the machine,” Kupferman said.
“The parts are all modular and easily replaced.”
The multi-space meters can be installed with just four bolts in an existing sidewalk or on a concrete pad footing if placed in a municipal parking lot, he said.
“Pay and display is a common usage of the unit,” Kupferman said, referring to the slip that the machine produces telling that the user paid and for how many hours.
“They can also be programmed for pay by space where customers register the space where their car is parked.”
Using such a system for parking will be a huge benefit to the town, Roberts said.
In Brookline, Younger said, the town has already seen an increase in receipts of $1 million, just by raising rates.
Not only will the smart meters bring additional revenue to Belmont, Roberts pointed out they can be more easily and quickly monitored than the system enforcement officials now use that requires checking and making a note of the time.