People tired of plugging the meters in West Hartford Center with quarters may soon have a more convenient way to pay for parking.
Indeed, town officials are entering the final stages for awarding the bid for the oft-talked about parking kiosks that will be installed in the Center.
Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said in a recent interview that the Town Council approved financing for the kiosks - which are expected to cost about $470,000 - and that the town is in the final stages of reviewing bids for their purchase.
The kiosks will enable people to purchase time to park with their credit cards, eliminating the need for coins. People will still able to pay for parking with hard currency at the kiosks.
“It’s simpler and easier for an individual parker to do,” Van Winkle said.
Director of Public Works John Phillips, who has spearheaded the effort, said that the town was scheduled to review the final two bids on Oct. 9.
Depending on how the bid goes, Van Winkle said that it may be possible for people to be notified that their parking meter is running out and may add time via a phone app. People may also be able to add time at any kiosk, not just the one nearest to their vehicles.
“It’s going to take us into the 21st century,” said Phillips, who added that downtown Hartford has kiosks, as well as places like Florida and New Jersey. “They’re everywhere but Connecticut.”
While no one likes to pay for parking, Van Winkle said that the funds generated from it serve an important, if not essential, function for the Center.
For one, paid parking provides incentive for people to move their vehicles and prevents store employees from parking in front of businesses where customers would normally queue up.
“Without paid parking, West Hartford Center would not function,” Van Winkle said.
In addition, proceeds from parking in the Center are reinvested back into the Center.
Van Winkle said that the snow from the February storm was cleared quickly from the Center while the rest of Connecticut was buried because of a fund set up to keep the Center open and operational.
The fund also covers lighting, the sweeping of sidewalks, garbage pickup and street paving.“It works really well,” Van Winkle said. “When there is a competition for dollars between math teachers and potholes, math teachers win out. The maintenance and quality of the Center is a function of the fact that we generate income for parking to do that.”