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Brookline begins replacing new multispace parking meters

Posted by Brock Parker  July 11, 2012 11:28 AM

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Complaints have prompted Brookline to cover multispace meters with plastic bags on Harvard Street in Coolidge Corner and replace them with single-space parking meters for a trial run this summer. Photo by Brock Parker.

The much-maligned era of multispace parking meters in Brookline’s business districts is coming to a quick end this week as the town begins covering the devices with garbage bags and taking them out of service a year after they were installed.

Crews are shrouding 16 multispace meters in parts of Coolidge Corner, Washington Square and JFK Crossing and replacing them with a total of 105 new single-space meters that accept coins and credit cards.

Brookline Town Administrator Melvin Kleckner said the work will be completed by the end of the day Wednesday and is part of a plan to replace multispace meters throughout the town.

But Kleckner said Brookline will hold a trial run for the new single-space meters for the next 90 days to six months to ensure they don’t generate the volume of complaints caused when the town installed the multispace meters.

“We don’t want to make the same mistake twice,” Kleckner said Wednesday.

Brookline installed about 90 multispace parking meters in 2011 to replace about 900 single-space meters in the town’s largest business districts. The multispace meters cost the town more than $1 million, but as soon as they were installed the town began receiving complaints about them.

Residents complained the multispace meters were confusing, slow, and are particularly burdensome for older drivers, who must walk from their parked car to the multispace meter, print a parking receipt, and return to the vehicle to put the slip in the window, even in inclement weather.

The town responded by trying to streamline the transaction process, and did shave off some of the time it takes to pay at the meter.

But in April Kleckner said complaints continued and he proposed a plan that could replace almost all of the multispace meters along Brookline streets, but leave the multispace meters in town parking lots.

The first part of the plan is to test the new single-space parking meters being provided for free during the trial period by San Diego-based IPS Group Inc. Unlike the town’s old single-space meters, the new devices accept credit cards.

At Kleckner’s suggestion, the town also included $100,000 in its budget this year to replace additional multispace meters if the trial program works. Some of the multispace meters that will be taken out of service will be sold to pay for the new single-space meters, while some of the multispace meters will be kept for the town parking lots.

Brookline will also change the way motorists use the multispace meters in parking lots. Instead of paying at the meter, and then placing a parking slip on their dashboards, motorists will pay for the numbered space that they park in, and will not have to return to their vehicle.

Kleckner said he anticipates it will only take the town about 90 days to gauge whether the new single space meters are a good fit.

A video on how to use the new single-space meters can be found online here.

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