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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Smart Meters to be removed
Ending pilot program, village reinstalls old devices
Christina Daly/Herald
Signs directing shoppers to display parking receipts were removed.

About halfway through the pilot program testing the village’s new parking meters, Mayor Francis Murray announced at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday that the devices would be removed.

Numerous complaints from business owners and residents alike prompted the mayor’s decision. The pilot program, which began in late October, was supposed to run for three months.

The Smart Meters, which were installed along Park Avenue, offered parkers coupons for local businesses when they paid for their parking. But many found the system confusing and hard to use, often mistaking the coupons for tickets.

“This system was the first of its kind,” Murray said at the meeting, “and while I do believe we need to find new ways to keep people shopping local while attracting visitors from other communities, the plain fact is, residents and business owners did not like certain aspects of the system.”

The meters printed the coupons before the parking tickets, which confused some parkers, since both were printed on the same kind of paper. Often, parkers would walk away from the meters, only to return a few minutes later to retrieve their actual parking tickets.

Initially, some visitors said that the screens of the meters — a joint venture between parking giant Parkeon and Mastercard — were hard to see in the sun, so the screen brightness was adjusted. Parkeon employees even took to the streets last month to help shoppers use the devices.

Each of the 10 units that were installed cost the village $6,600, which the mayor negotiated down from $10,000. Parkeon has agreed to reimburse the village for the full price of the meters.

“When I saw my customers coming in upset … I knew something was wrong,” said Bruce Mirkin, owner of Accent on Eyes, who opposed the installation of the new meters. “You’re competing with the mall and big-box stores, you want your customers to come in at least neutral. When they come in mad or frustrated, it makes my job harder.

“I’m happy [the meters will be gone],” he added. “I’m happy for my customers. And that’s the bottom line. Parking should be an absolute no-brainer.”

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