The pay parking kiosk located at the corner of Baker and Hall Street is creating chaos for people lodging their vehicles on the street and for business in the area, says one business owner.
Vince DeVito currently has a petition in his store asking the city to make improvements on the parking payment system, or get rid of the kiosk altogether and go back to metered parking. More than 150 people have now signed the petition during the past month it has been out on the front counter of his DeVito’s Shoe Store.
Although the store is not pushing the petition, DeVito said there are those who are unhappy with the parking kiosk system — with a central parking pay station and no individual parking meters — and are definitely willing to voice their opinion.
The consensus is the kiosk needs to be removed and replaced with parking meters, or more kiosks need to be placed on the block to be more convenient, DeVito noted.
“I have customers coming in saying, ‘I can’t get to the kiosk . . . that it’s too far, I don’t know where it is.’ Signage is poor and people don’t know how much it costs,” he said.
DeVito said when customers get to the lone kiosk there are no directions on what to do, if they need to keep the ticket or take it back to the car, and it creates confusion.
One kiosk in a two-block span is not convenient, said DeVito. The city should have at least two more kiosks to make it convenient for drivers, he said, for a total of three kiosks on Hall Street, one at the top of Hall Street near the park and another near the Adventure Hotel.
Signage for the kiosk needs to be improved, he continued, since most people parking on the 400 and 500 blocks of Hall Street think it is free parking, said DeVito.
“So they are confused when they get ticketed,” he said.
DeVito said he’s lucky to have a “destination-based business.” People who come downtown to his store have said they would not park on the street at all as they don’t like the kiosk idea, but do so to attend his business.
It’s not as if DeVito is advocating for free parking.
“I have no problem with pay parking . . . we’ve always had paid parking in Nelson and the profits from meters and fines is tremendous . . . and that’s okay with me. But convenience is the key.
“If the idea is to have entire downtown with the kiosk system, then let’s get it together and do the entire downtown.”
City director of Development Services, Pam Mierau, had not heard about the petition against the Hall Street parking kiosk, but suggested pay parking kiosks were a pilot project of sorts across the downtown.
“But the Hall Street pay station, specifically, is considered to be permanent,” she said. “What we are piloting is whether there should be more pay stations in other areas of the city.”
Once a pay station is installed, it is part of the infrastructure and it would be more costly to reverse and remove it.
“Our experience with the Hall Street pay station will inform where we go with pay stations citywide — whether and how the pilot project is expanded.”
Mierau explained that pay stations offer numerous benefits, including credit card payments, cell phone top-off (instead of returning to the meter), and important data analytics on parking use, demand, and payment.
“We will be proceeding with public engagement on the downtown parking strategy in the fall, of which the pay station on Hall Street will be part of the conversation,” she said.
DeVito said the city had to look at the numbers, people were either parking or not parking, and needed to make the decision.
“We’ve actually lost parking on Hall Street since the (street) renovation,” he said. “We want shoppers who come down here, park and stick around. If they don’t know how to use (the kiosk), can’t find it or get ticketed because of it, it doesn’t leave a good taste in their mouth,” and they don’t come downtown.