By Geoff Fox
By now, you’ve probably seen a number of tall gray boxes spring up along Main Street and the parking lot by BuddyLou’s. Those boxes are kiosks that will be replacing parking meters throughout town.
A company by the name of Pango installed the kiosks and has ownership over the kiosks.
Right now there are five kiosks already installed with a sixth planned for the municipal lot off Canal Street. These meters come at no cost to the town.
That parking lot will eventually have a pavilion, the guardrails replaced, and repaved.
Current parking meters will be removed, the poles will be capped off and remain for usage to hold flags and any decorating projects that come up through various groups.
The new kiosks will accept credit or debit cards as well as coins. There will be an app that will alert users if their parking meter time is about to expire.
Town Manager Mike Faith said if people came in and paid for two hour parking and were two miles down one of the trails, they can set it up to get an alert on a parking app and pay for extra time on their meter without coming back to their vehicle.
Councilman Roland Lanehart, Jr. said the parking kiosk in the Rail Trail parking lot by BuddyLou’s would be set for free parking until a certain time on Sundays as people park there to go to the Presbyterian church.
Parking in Hancock is usually free on Sundays anyway, Faith later said.
The kiosks can be turned on and off as the town sees fit. Two examples would be for the Halloween Parade next month, since people use the Rail Trail lot for parking during the parade, and possibly during the entire month of December.
“It will be up to mayor and council to decide,” Faith said. “We want to make it as business friendly as possible.”
The kiosks could also be set to give special messages on the receipt, which could help market events in Hancock or just give messages such as “Happy Holidays.”
People who don’t have smartphones can still use the kiosks by paying for parking with coins. The money earned from those coins goes directly to the town.
Faith said the parking rates on the kiosks would be the same rate as they are now on the regular meters.
“Whatever it is, it’s not going up,” Faith said.
Any money brought in from the credit cards would be used as a way for Pango to recoup installation costs.
Lanehart said they would get a “pretty good portion” from the card use.
There will be a credit card fee for using the kiosk, Faith added.
Faith said there would be revenue sharing, with Pango getting a higher percentage, for the credit card payments until the kiosk equipment and installation is paid off. Each kiosk costs about $22,000, Faith added.
Faith said the company would take care of and maintain the kiosks as well. Even if the kiosk is vandalized or backed into, the company would take care of repairing it.
Faith said police would be equipped with a tablet that would help with parking enforcement.
Because people have to enter their license plate number into the kiosk and have a ticket on their dashboard, officers would just have to punch in the license plate into the tablet, which would then print a parking ticket for the vehicle.
Town Advisor Bill Valentine said the tablet would tell the officer if the vehicle is supposed to be parked in a spot legally or illegally.
Because the license plate number is entered into the kiosk, along with a credit card, Valentine said that would be how the officers know what car is supposed to be parked in a location.
Kiosks are solar powered. Faith said they could also have a dual energy source as a backup.
With credit card safety a big issue now days, Faith said the town was reassured the kiosks do not store information from credit card users. So if the kiosks were to get hacked, there would be no credit information that could be stolen.
Faith said Pango would hire two local people to serve as ambassadors to help people with the kiosks, such as explaining the kiosk and helping with payments. Pango will pay the salary for those people, Faith said. No date has been set for the kiosks to go live, Faith said.