by Geoff Fox
The parking kiosks in town are active and accepting payment for parking along Main Street and two lots, but enforcement hasn’t started just yet. Instead, that will begin the first of the year.
Town Manager Mike Faith said town officials decided January 1 would be the start date for parking enforcement.
(Faith gave this reporter a tutorial on how to use the kiosks, which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIbrw7-j6CU)
Rates will remain 75 cents an hour, which can be paid for in coin or by credit/debit card. Faith did note the kiosks do not give change if using coins.
“So you want to pay with quarters. You can’t put a dollar bill in there,” he said.
A third payment option would be paying through the Pango app.
Faith said if someone were to park in Hancock and head out on one of the trails, the app would notify them their time on the meter was almost up and they could pay on the app while still on the trail.
He wasn’t sure and had to check about paying on the app, but Faith said there would be a service charge if using a card. There’s no charge for using coins.
Throughout town, there are signs on the old meter poles with the corresponding zone numbers, telling you which zone you should pay in.
“If you pay in one zone, you want to make sure you park in that zone,” Faith said.
From an enforcement point of view, Faith said if someone paid for parking and parked in the wrong zone, he doesn’t see any citations issued for that instance.
The company that installed the kiosks is footing the bill for them and Faith said the kiosks are expensive.
The town receives a portion of the credit card transactions with the other portion to Pango. Faith said any coin transaction goes directly to the town.
The town has a lease agreement for the Rail Trail parking lot on Church Street and the town is in charge of the upkeep of the lot.
Faith said funds from the meters would maintain their part of the Rail Trail, which would include the concrete curb stops in the lot.
Faith noted parking on the west end of town near the likes of Grove Funeral Home is a hike to the nearest kiosk.
“We’re in the process of getting other kiosks installed in that area so they’re more convenient for people,” he said. “That’s just going to take a little bit of time.”
The town would have the ability to turn off parking for the kiosk in that area, or any area, if the need comes up.
Faith said if there were an event in town, such as the returning Barge Bash next year or Trail Days in June, kiosks could be turned off to allow for free during those times.
“I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to do. That’s a decision the mayor and council have to make,” Faith said.
Of course, people live along Main Street and in turn park along Main Street.
Faith said parking passes will be issued to those folks, but it won’t be for Main Street.
Instead, the passes will be for the Canal Street parking lot, Faith said. Rates haven’t been decided on, which Faith said needs to happen pretty quickly, but there’d be a monthly fee for that pass.
“That won’t be convenient because if they’re living on the north side of Main Street, why would you want to park the whole way down,” Faith said. “I understand that, but in the past, the town has never issued parking passes for Main Street.”
That decision would fall to the discretion of the mayor and council if they would want to make any changes.
Faith did say there is no charge for off-street parking or side street parking.
“All these parking spots are public parking so you can’t reserve a spot,” Faith said about the Main Street parking.
There had been discussions about businesses having a “wallet” where they can pay for two spots, but they don’t get to pick those two spots.
Faith admitted no one, including himself, likes to pay for parking but the reality is, as a small town, there needs to be some control over parking.
Over the years, before zoning, Faith said buildings in town were subdivided and the owners put the burden of parking on the municipality.
“There’s plenty of places in town that have all these rentals and don’t have off street parking,” Faith said, “and now you can’t do that.”
There could be a discount on handicapped parking, but that is something to be discussed with town officials.
Faith said with the way the state came through with their streetscape project, there’s not a lot of space for handicapped parking along Main Street.
There is handicapped parking in the side lots.
Faith said there have been a few times where he’s had to help people on the kiosks, such as helping a person who accidentally overpaid.