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September 07. 2013 12:17AM

City parking system has a hiccup


 

MANCHESTER — About 900 people who pay for parking through a meter left on their car dashboard will need to swap their devices for new ones starting later this month.

The city needed to get a new vendor after the company it was using went out of business, according to Denise Boutilier, the city’s parking manager.

But customers shouldn’t worry.

“They’re not going to lose any money,” she said.

Starting Sept. 23, customers of the in-vehicle parking meters can swap their current device for a new one.

“We will transfer the balance of the old meter onto the new meter,” she said. Or customers can spend down their balances to zero. If people no longer have balances, they will have to pay at the meters or kiosks to park until they get new meters.

People will need to register their new devices online. A registered credit card pays for the meter use.

The new devices also can be used in Portsmouth and Dover because those cities use the same company, OTI/EasyPark, she said.“You only pay for the actual amount of time the meter’s running,” Boutilier said.

People without the devices pay for a set amount of time, say 75 cents an hour, and don’t get any money back if they leave their spots early. But not with the meters.

“I’ve run in and out of CVS and it’s only charged me a penny,” she said.

People pull up to a metered parking space, check what zone they are in and set their meter for that zone, she said.

“You don’t have to go to a kiosk” to pay and then put the receipt on the dashboard, Boutilier said.Those not currently customers can pick up a device at the city parking office at 25 Vine St. for $29.95 preloaded with $10 worth of parking. The office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.There will be no cost to those getting a replacement device, she said.

Robin Comstock, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, called them “an incredible asset.”

“It just makes conducting business, doing business, circulating around downtown whether a business person, resident or guest easier,” Comstock said.

Comstock, who has a meter but typically walks between downtown meetings, called the system “very progressive and forward-thinking.”

She said the “business community greatly appreciates how this system makes parking easier and paying for parking easier.”

The company that made the “iPark” meters, ePark Systems Inc., of Woodland, Wash., declared bankruptcy Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

Friday, the company’s website said: “ePark Systems, Inc. is in the process of shutting down its operations and will no longer be able to provide support for customers who have purchased its products.”

The website referred the company’s Manchester customers to Boutilier’s contact information.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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