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November 29. 2012 6:33PM

New parking stations could eliminate parking meters in Nashua

NASHUA - Elimination of the downtown parking meters is one step closer to reality this week as an aldermanic committee recommended the purchase of up to 20 pay stations. The Budget Review Committee supported a proposal Wednesday to spend $140,000 in parking revenue to purchase 16 to 20 parking pay stations that will be installed along Main Street.

Tom Galligani, economic development director, said there is a strong demand from residents to be able to pay for parking with a credit card or debit card. He noted that many people do not carry cash with them.

"Nobody really does that," Galligani said, explaining the new parking pay stations - at a cost of $7,200 each - will be more convenient for downtown patrons.

A downtown improvement committee suggested that money gathered from parking revenue be spent to purchase the pay stations. So far this year, about $755,810 in parking revenue has been collected, which is nearly $28,000 more than anticipated with the month of December still remaining, said Galligani.

"Let us spend the cash we are generating," he told the committee, adding an extra $120,000 in parking revenue will likely be generated next month. Mayor Donnalee Lozeau hopes to replace all of the traditional coin-operated parking meters in the downtown area with new parking pay stations, including the meters now housed on the lower levels of the city's two municipal parking garages.

Rather than feeding parking meters with quarters every two hours or more, Lozeau is recommending a parking feature that operates on solar power, which will accept credit cards, debit cards and coins.

"There is a plan, and we feel it is a very good plan" said Lozeau, explaining the option to purchase a pay-and-display system or a pay-by-space system. "Whatever the will of the group is, we are happy to do."

She noted the importance of initiating the parking pay station program now rather than later, since new sidewalks have already been completed in one downtown section, and she would prefer not to reinstall the old meters in that area.

The life expectancy of the new parking pay stations is about 20 years, according to Mark Sousa, director of transportation, who said they will be maintained by CALEAmerica. The communities of Concord, Dover, Portsmouth and Manchester have similar systems already in place, according to Sousa. The committee recommended final approval of the 16 to 20 pay stations, which will next go before the full Board of Aldermen for a final vote.



khoughton@newstote.com


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