As evidenced by the photo to the right, the parking meters that stand along Main, S. Broad, Belvidere, Mauch Chunk and E. Center streets in Nazareth are… historic… to put it politely.
Nazareth’s meters aren’t quite as… historic… as, say, Bangor’s. If you parked in the Slate Belt borough recently, you may have noticed the slots for 5 cents, 10 cents and 25 cents -- and the knob with comfortable thumb grooves that must be turned before your payment is officially accepted.
Nevertheless, at least one Nazareth Borough Council member would like to see the borough’s meters updated.
At Council’s workshop on Thursday, Aug. 30, Councilman Larry Stoudt suggested a committee be formed to decide how borough residents and visitors will pay to park.
“I don’t think you can eliminate [the parking meters],” Stoudt said. “If you eliminate them, you may as well close all of the businesses downtown."
Paul Kokolus, the borough’s secretary and treasurer, suggested the meters be replaced in stages because of the potential to lose revenue if done all at once.
During the months of June and July, according to Council's monthly police report, the borough collected $5,483.95 from meter receipts and $1,360 from meter tickets.
Council members threw around replacement suggestions. Stoudt, for example, would like meters to tick back to 0:00 after a vehicle leaves a parking spot. This is not an impossible concept, as explained below.
As a Nazareth resident, visitor or business owner, what payment method would you like the borough to consider?
When a council member suggested erecting meters in Center Square, Councilman Frank Maurek -- quite enthusiastically -- said he'd second the motion if it were brought to the table.
There was no mention of raising parking rates. Currently, 25 cents will put two hours on the meter.
For a glimpse into the future of parking, Nazareth need look no farther than Bethlehem.
There are five different methods to pay for parking in the Christmas City: coins, tokens, cash keys, credit cards and ParkNOW!
The Bethlehem Parking Authority unveiled solar-powered smart meters in August 2011 and ParkNOW! in July 2012, according to a Bethlehem Patch report.
The ParkNOW! app, which is available for free at iTunes and Android Market, allows drivers to initiate and pay for a parking session by using a cell phone to call the number located on the meter, street or lot sign.
Because of technology like ParkNOW!, the days of finding a lucky parking spot with money left over are numbered. In some locations where ParkNOW! is used, drivers can terminate their parking session and pay only for actual time parked.
Bethlehem's solar-powered smart meters cost about $600 per meter, according to Bethlehem Patch. And in 2009, the city generated $675,000 from approximately 1,300 parking meters.
While a parking garage in Nazareth is unlikely -- although desired -- Council President Dan Chiavaroli mentioned in passing Thursday night that many garages are now outfitted with electronic payment machines.
The machines in Bethlehem's Center City parking garages operate 24/7, offering a variety of payment options, including cash, credit and debit.
In addition to recommending the implementation of more technologically advanced equipment, the company is urging the city to change parking meter hours of operation, raise rates to as much as $1 per hour in prime Downtown areas, and encourage the use of the Pine Street garage.
Easton currently generates about $675,000 annually from parking fees, which is used to pay for city services for residents, according to Easton Patch.
For the full report on Easton’s parking study, including reaction from business owners and Easton City Council, read “Easton Parking Study Recommends Rate Hike” on Easton Patch.