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Parking 'Pay Stations' Coming to Downtown Kent

City will use pay stations instead of common parking meters to manage on-street parking spaces downtown

Starting in the fall, drivers will have to pay to park on certain streets in downtown Kent.

Instead of parking meters, the city will use a system of parking pay stations in which a pay station governs multiple parking spaces on a single street.

"We're definitely not using parking meters," Kent City Engineer Jim Bowling said.

Traditional parking meters typically are placed one meter for every on-street parking space, but Kent is planning for pay stations that will manage multiple spaces per street similar to a system in place in Charlotte, NC.

Pay stations allow drivers to pay with credit cards or cash (Kent is considering accepting Kent State University's FLASHCard). Drivers would identify their parking space at the station — spaces will be numbered or identified at the curb — and receive a receipt showing the time paid for at which space. The receipt would not have to be displayed.

Bowling said early plans call for one pay station to be located mid-block on both sides of a street. The pay station would manage all parking spaces on that side of the street within the particular city block.

"There will be free public parking downtown ... at all times," Bowling said. "The purpose of the paid parking on-street ... is to make sure the spaces turn over."

Streets where parking spaces will be managed by the new pay system are: South DePeyster Street, from Haymaker Parkway to Main Street; Erie Street, the full length; Water Street, from Haymaker Parkway to Columbus Street; and Main Street, from DePeyster Street to Franklin Avenue.

The new system may or may not incorporate the parking spaces on the Main Street Bridge, but plans call for the stations to manage 262 of the 1,100 spaces that will be available downtown when the parking garage and new courthouse lot open.

Bowling said city officials and downtown business and property owners are in the process of determining exactly what options they want the new pay stations to have — such as accepting FLASHCards or using solar power. Once those options are set, the city will put the project out to bid and hire a firm to provide and install the new parking pay stations.

The pay station parking project has a $750,000 budget, and that covers the entire process from purchase to installation. City officials estimate as many as two dozen of the parking pay stations will be installed.

The new pay stations could be in place as early as September. Rates are likely to be $0.25 per half hour with a two-hour limit.

Lori Wemhoff, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, said downtown business owners see the goal of the new parking pay stations to manage quick turn-over of the parking spaces directly in front of retail shops.

"This will allow for someone to run into one or more shops, spend their money locally, and then give up that prime spot for the next potential shopper," Wemhoff said. "This way, more convenient parking is made available for the short-time visitor or shopper, versus the space being used by an all-day employee of a store or restaurant."

The parking pay stations will not charge for spaces 24/7. The on-street parking will be free during certain evening and weekend hours. That free time period is not yet set in stone, but stations will likely operate between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Bowling said adjustments will be made to the new parking system as downtown redevelopment projects finish and data show where and for how long drivers are using the paid system.

The new on-street parking pay stations are not connected to PARTA's Kent Central Gateway transit center, which is expected to open this spring with 300-plus public parking spaces.

"I truly believe when the parking deck is open and operating, the parking situation in downtown Kent will improve tremendously," Wemhoff said. "We just need to make sure that what is being communicated is correct regarding that there will be free parking, and indicating the locations."

Dr. Anarchy Clown PHD January 28, 2013 at 09:46 AM
people are going to complain about this in this thread, and it wont matter.
Sa;;y January 28, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Wow! Only $750,000 budget! I hope it's "vandal" repellent. They were afraid to leave the holiday lights up more than a day because of vandalism being so prevalent in downtown Kent.
Laurel Myers Hurst January 28, 2013 at 12:36 PM
I dare say that Charlotte, NC has significantly less snow and ice to interfere with the visibility of the parking spot numbers....rrrrrrr.
Teresa K. January 28, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Lets not confuse these with parking meters. Individual parking meters have a designated spot, you are charged by the time spent in the spot, and you have to PAY for the spot.... but these ARE NOT parking meters. Lets be clear. They are parking STATIONS. I dont think the people are going to like this system very well. As they will accept credit cards and cash, will there be surveillance cameras on each station? How easily can they be broken into by wandering drunks? If a credit card is used, where does the infomation get stored-- on a hard drive in the station or at a remote location? Will you be needing a "meter maid/ monitor" for these devices? Who maintains them-- what city dept? I'll just keep going to the stores LOCALLY where parking is not complicated.
Chip Souza January 28, 2013 at 01:39 PM
The next "big solution" to the parking problem downtown will be executed when somebody buys up some land and makes more parking lots with it. I am being sarcastic, but you get the point? What's wrong with the 2 hour limit? it works in Ravenna. http://www.ci.ravenna.oh.us/Departments/Police/ParkingEnforcement/tabid/216/Default.aspx
JAC January 28, 2013 at 02:05 PM
What is the projected revenue on this project ? How long will it take to pay for these parking stations (group meters)? I will drive to a neighboring community to shop where parking is free.
Matt Fredmonsky January 28, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Those are all good questions I asked as well. I'm told they're being resolved right now, so final answers aren't available.
Chip Souza January 28, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Yep, this is the kind of thing that drives people away from shopping downtown, as JAC commented above. The city has done wonders for downtown growth, however, without the foresight of sustainability in regards to supporting the population's needs, I'm afraid that we'll all have to come to the conclusion that somewhere in the Council chambers there was this brilliant idea that we should all just fly in on our jet packs, dump our money at the Franklin Square Deli, then fly out..who needs parking?
i love doughnuts January 28, 2013 at 02:36 PM
walk or bike and this becomes a non-issue. kent could use less fatties.
Concerned Neighbor January 28, 2013 at 02:37 PM
I think hiring an employee,(pays income tax) to enforce 1-2 hour parking would be much easier and cost effective.
JAC January 28, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Just another tax.
Donald S January 28, 2013 at 03:07 PM
They do, he drives around in that Jeep, says Kent Police on the side.
jac00 January 28, 2013 at 03:07 PM
just a few calculations: .50 cents/hour per space x ten hours/day = $5 per day. $5 per day x 262 spaces = $1,310 per/day. $1,310 per/day x 6 day week = $7,860 per/week and this x 52 week = $408,720 per year. it will take the city 1.5 years to pay for the "parking stations" (group meters). Then the city will be making money taxing people to park. This is not the way to attract people to downtown shopping.
Chip Souza January 28, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Walking or biking from Stow or Cuyahoga Falls or Akron may be an issue for 50% of the potential revenue sources (people) living outside of Kent. I love doughnuts, too, but if I lived in Ravenna, I'd just walk or bike to Deluxe Pastry, and avoid Kent all together. https://www.facebook.com/DeluxePastryShop?rf=169727056376847
Andria Balckwood January 28, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Baltimore using parking stations. I have personally used them. They work well and bring much needed revenue to the area. What people fail to realize is that when one wants the federal government "out of people's lives" it often comes home to roost in the form of local government. "Tightening the fiscal belt" mean that we still pay for it and we will usually pay more for it on a local level. I find nothing wrong with that, its just that we need to be honest with ourselves. Nothing is for free.
Chip Souza January 28, 2013 at 03:16 PM
I'm sorry, Matt editor & readers,..I apologize.. I love Kent and I don't want my comments to seem irascible, but I just think that the solutions to the downtown Kent parking issue have never been appropriate to the problem. I have watched my hometown experience some fantastic growth of late, yet I am concerned that the city will desperately cling to it's provincial past, holding it back from growing into it's potentially progressive greatness.
John Bard January 28, 2013 at 05:38 PM
In the 60's and 70's Kent business people wanted the parking meters removed and now they return as progress. What are the cost's to residents to make sure Kent State flash cards will work?
Jim Williams January 28, 2013 at 05:58 PM
Sounds like a perfectly reasonable solution. If someone really feels that using 50 cents worth of gas and x$$ worth of their time to go elsewhere and avoid spending money (that will help maintain streets), let 'em do it. More spaces for the rest of us!
Steven and Melody Herman January 28, 2013 at 07:22 PM
There are some people who work in the buildings on Main Street who depend on the disabled parking spaces on Main Street so that they can gain access to their places of employment. This would put an added burden on people who already have enough problems. Not everyone can walk or ride a bike.
Dr. Anarchy Clown PHD January 28, 2013 at 07:54 PM
agreed.
Wilma Crawford January 28, 2013 at 08:44 PM
How will handicapped parking be handled? If one has to walk farther or must cross the street to the pay station, it sort of defeats the purpose of the handicapped spot.
Resident of Kent January 28, 2013 at 09:20 PM
All this means is that the "non metered" parking spaces will be taken up by the same individuals daily say, employees or business owners.. I hate metered parking and vow to find a way around it. How can anybody charge me to park on land that they do NOT rightfully own. Ridiculous.
Dr. Anarchy Clown PHD January 28, 2013 at 11:11 PM
the people of kent can only complain.
Jae Anthony January 29, 2013 at 12:50 AM
To confirm a comment made by John Bard earlier. Kent did have parking meters in the past and the businesses did beg to have them removed. At that time I worked at Kent Hardware and I remeber when the meters were removed. Our business increased after that and we had more customers and revenue. As for those who think people will pay to park you can go to Aurora or Hudson, park for free as long as you want, shop, grab a bite to eat and then drive home. The fact of the matter is many people will do just that and bypass Kent. So much new and exciting happening in Kent and then this. One step forward, two steps back.
Teresa K. January 29, 2013 at 01:07 AM
@Matt: do you know: What would happen if I park my car and NEVER go to the Parking Station? I never tell it I'm there and I never go get a receipt? (is there a hidden camera that captures a picture of our license? ) : )
Matt Fredmonsky January 29, 2013 at 01:12 AM
I also asked about enforcement, and at this point I was told it's unclear how the spaces will be monitored. I will update the story as it evolves.
kent04grad January 29, 2013 at 07:09 AM
I know there are people who park at the mill on water st. all day. they take turns moving their cars so the parking enforcement guy won't ticket their vehicles. they have plenty of parking behind hometown bank and in front of their building, it's just being lazy.
Mick Mummy February 11, 2013 at 08:16 PM
hopefully you realize that all YOU are doing is complaining too, right? And multiple times in the same thread....
Mick Mummy February 11, 2013 at 08:27 PM
there needs to be parking for employees, that is close (enough) and convenient and affordable (since many of those jobs dont pay well) and there needs to be spots for customers to park when they want to shop or dine. there is only so much room in the area, which is why I was glad to see the parta parking deck.... Until I heard they would charge (Unlike Falls and Hudson). And now i read that ALL of the "good" spots in the heart of downtown kent will also become pay spots. So there isnt even a way to get around it. Wanna grab a bite at the new BW3's in the old hotel when it opens, then go shopping at one of the stores, maybe catch a show at the stage? well you're now going to have to pay to park, the pay restriction wont free up spots, because ALL the spots even close are pay spots, and nobody has the option to park elsewhere, oh and you'll have to move your car halfway through your outing, cause there's a 2 hour limit. hope you didnt want to see that band's whole set

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