After a year long campaign to institute 24/7 parking in the downtown area in New Rochelle, three parking pay stations in the New Rochelle Public Library parking lot were vandalized and rendered inoperable. Average weekly revenue for the library lot is $1,200, according to City Spokesperson Kathy Gilwit.
"We are awaiting replacement parts to repair three meters vandalized during the week of Feb. 14 and subsequently inoperable", said Gilwit.
The City appears to have gone into damage control mode over the broken parking pay stations.
When the City proposed overhauling the Library lots in 2009, replacing parking meters with new parking pay stations with credit card payment processing, city officials claimed that the pay stations were better, stronger and easier to maintain. City Manager Chuck Strome claimed the parking pay stations would generate more revenue because, according to Strome, people will pay more when they use their credit card. Parking for an hour costs 50 cents. The parking pay stations do not give change so drivers who insert a dollar bill intending to pay for one hour will pay for two hours but only receive one hour of parking.
New Rochelle Parking Manager George Rainone said the new machines could be more easily serviced because the vendor was located nearby.
The machines were vandalized by someone spraying glue or some similar substance into the openings on the machine for dollar bills, credit cards and coins so that it is not possible to make payment.
Vandalism is not covered under the city's service contract so not only is the City out roughly $4,000 in lost parking fee revenue (and counting) but another $4,700 for replacement parts. The City did not disclose the amount of parking fines collected in the lots but the total combined loss to the City is well in excess of $10,000.
Making matters worse, the "local" vendor praised by Ranione does not keep the coin sensors in stock so those parts must be shipped from the manufacturer in Vancouver, British Columbia. As most of the parking pay station revenue for the lot comes in the form of coins, the coin sensors the most critical part of the machine.
The relative ease with which the machines were disabled and the cost and down time is a source of concern among some in City Hall who have begun to realize that while parking meters may require more servicing on a day-to-day basis, disabling any three of the older parking meters will not render they entire parking operation inoperable as is the case with having three pay stations for the entire parking lot.