New parking meter kiosks a challenge for Ventnor beach goers

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Wendy Barber of Mays Landing tries her hand at the new parking meter kiosk on Suffolk Avenue while John Schwartz of Fort Myers, Fla., waits his turn. Wendy Barber of Mays Landing tries her hand at the new parking meter kiosk on Suffolk Avenue while John Schwartz of Fort Myers, Fla., waits his turn. VENTNOR – Beachgoers say the new parking meter kiosks the city installed at Suffolk and Newport avenues leave a lot to be desired. Users say the kiosks do not offer enough options to make them convenient or easy to use.

Commissioner Theresa Kelly said the kiosks are popular in other communities and people just have to get used to them. Nevertheless, she said the city plans upgrades, but cannot promise they will be put into effect this summer.

On busy weekends, there’s a line of people waiting to pay for parking while others try to figure out how to use the new technology, users say.

“You can spend 15 minutes waiting for your turn. People just don’t know how to use them,” Dr. Ira Mendelsohn of Margate said Friday afternoon, July 11 while John Schwartz, a visitor from Fort Meyers, Fla., tried his hand at the machine.

Schwartz fumbled through automatic prompts before having to have to start over. He was expecting $2 change, but didn’t get it.

Mendelsohn, who was using the kiosk because he plays tennis at the Suffolk Avenue courts, complained that the machine does not give change.

“If you have a $5 bill, you have to buy five hours,” he said. “If it took credit cards, it would be a lot easier.”

One user could not add to the time he already paid for and had to start anew.

Wendy Barber of Mays Landing said she had to wait in line to pay.

“I think they need a second kiosk here,” Barber said.

Nicole DiChiara of Cedar Grove, who was going to the beach, had to walk back to her car at the end of the block because she did not know she needed to program the parking space number into the query.

“I didn’t even realize there were numbered spaces,” DiChiara said.

Kelly said the machines would eventually accept credit cards and could possibly be accessible using a cell phone app.

“We had problems with our city credit card not being compatible with that of the manufacturer. They were going to charge the city for every transaction and we do not want that expense,” Kelly said. “If we can get it on a cell phone, we will do it.”

The credit card option should be implemented soon, but not before summer’s end, she said.

When the kiosks were first discussed, officials said users would be able to access the machine from the beach or tennis courts to pay for extra time using their cell phones.

The city wants to do everything it can to make the kiosks as user friendly as possible, Kelly said.

The kiosks, which the city purchased from ITS, were installed as part of a street reconstruction project. The project will remove the median where the old meters were located to widen the roadway, officials said.

The city also removed the meter heads from the parking meters along Atlantic Avenue, but the city is considering putting them back in some areas, Kelly said.

City officials have been altering parking regulations to accommodate business owners and residents. On July 17, the commission will hold a public hearing before final adoption of an ordinance amending Chapter 214 of the city code to implement 15-minute parking spaces on Ventnor Avenue at Hillside Avenue. Forty-five-minute restrictions will be implemented on both sides of Ventnor Avenue from Portland to New Haven avenues.

The city is discussing other parking changes, Kelly said, but because changes are required by ordinance, by the time the Board of Commissioners holds a public hearing and adopts the ordinance, summer will be over.

“We need parking availability to help our economy, but we are limited with what we can do. No matter what we do, we cannot please everyone,” she said.

Kelly said she lives in an area of the city where summer residents and their guests take up all the parking spaces on her street.

“Look, if there’s just three months of inconvenience out of the year, I can deal with it to help the town prosper,” she said.

Still some summer residents arrive with three, four or more vehicles, especially on the weekends. The curb cuts for their driveways eliminate parking spaces, and their visitors park on the street too, taking up spaces for beachgoers.

“On the July 4 weekend, there was nowhere to park,” Kelly said. “But they pay taxes, too.”

Kelly said the kiosks will be removed at the end of the summer and put in storage until next year to extend their life expectancy.

 

 


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