For the fourth time in 10 months, Parking Pay Stations in downtown New Rochelle have been rendered inoperable. All three of the pay station machines at the Prospect Street Lot were rendered inoperable. One pay station machine at the library lot was again rendered inoperable in an attack last night. One pay station machine is still out of service since the previous attack in October. Two previous attacks took place in February and May.
The latest attacks come just days after parking fees at downtown lots were doubled from 50 cents an hour to $1.00 an hour suggesting the possibility that the attacks were a response to the increase in parking fees. No signs indicating the change in parking fees were visible at any of the downtown lots.
The cost to taxpayers for the oft-vandalized machines now stands in excess of $50,000...and counting.
As we have reported several times before, the technique used by the vandal is simple, quick and totally destroys the inner workings of the machines. No one has been caught vandalizing a machine. All of the vandalism has occurred since the City went to 24/7 parking enforcement in the downtown area. Talk of the Sound has repeatedly pointed out that simply fixing the damaged machines will only be a prelude to further vandalism, more losses and increased expenses.
Last night a congealed blue liquid was clearly visible, having streamed down the front of one of the damage pay stations.
City officials have previously told Talk of the Sound the average weekly revenue for the library lot is $1,200. The metered area of the Prospect Street lot is about the same size.
Police have continued what is described as "targeted" investigations. The City has planned on installing cameras and it appears that at least one of the machines may now have a camera installed so it is possible that the police will be able to obtain an image of the perpetrator.
Vandalism is not covered under the city's service contract so not only is the City out about $2,500 a week in lost parking fee revenue (and counting) but will pay about $10,000 to repair the damaged meters, some of which have been repaired multiple times over the past year. Prior to the recent attacks the City had lost over $25,000 in parking revenue and spent roughly $10,000 in repairs. The total cost will soon exceed $50,000.
Any costs are in addition to the amount of parking fines not collected in the two lots when all of the machines are inoperable.
Making matters worse, the "local" vendor 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.