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New parking system furrows brows



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Cindy Gruenwald removes the old parking meters in front of the Lake Geneva Regional News building.

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June 12, 2012 | 04:58 PM
Lake Geneva was full to the brim last weekend.

"It's like July 4th!" Speedo Condos yelled as he sped off on his motorbike from Harbor Side Cafe, his full-to-the brim restaurant.

Chamber of Commerce head George Hennerley said, "If you can't make money when the sun shines…" speaking of the great weather and the great crowds. He made his comments while filling up the back end of his truck during his clean-up of the Paint-In which filled the streets with artists all weekend.

All but one of the shop owners surveyed said they had a great weekend.

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Carvetti's was partially open less than a week after it was hit by a fire (see related story, page 5A)

And the beach was, well, full to the brim as the city looked like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Oktoberfest all wrapped into one.

Except one scene was as prevalent as any other — people hunched next to the new parking kiosks, trying to figure them out.

"It's a generational thing," one of the meter attendants said.

That seemed to be the case, as teenagers seemed to be giving their elders a guided tour of the new parking system. So, we asked the attendants, and the employees at the front counter of city hall who deal with people paying tickets, about the most frequently asked questions or most confusing aspects to the new parking system.

(The new kiosk, by the way, is nicknamed "Luke" based on the movie "Cool Hand Luke" in which Paul Newman goes to jail for ripping off parking meter heads.)

Here's a random selection of their answers:

n Metered parking is from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you put in money prior to 9 a.m., the meter won't start its clock until 9 a.m. So, for instance, if you put $1 in at 8 a.m. for one hour, the meter will start running at 9 and therefore give you until 10 to park there. The kiosk won't take money if you try to put in time beyond 7 p.m.

n When the machine asks you to touch the keypad to start, don't try touching the screen or some other area. The keypad is where the numbers and alphabet are located (yes, some people get confused. If you're among those, ask your child…or anyone under 30 who happens to be walking by).

n Follow the prompts and be patient. Some people try to add money before the blinking message on the screen tells you to.

n There is a minimum payment of $1 to use a credit card.

n Only U.S. $1 or $5 bills, or quarters will work. Keep the Canadian money for Canada.

n Don't put your credit card in the slot for currency (yes, some people are doing this).

n Do not grab for the receipt. It'll come out all on its own. If you put your hand in to grab it, you may cause a paper jam.

n There's no need to place the receipt in your car. The number to be used if you want to add minutes is printed on the receipt. So if that's your intent, you're smart to take it with you.

n You can purchase or add time from any kiosk no matter where you are actually parked.

n If you pay with a credit card, you can set it up so a text message will be sent to your cell phone to tell when your time is about to expire. You can add time using your phone at a cost of 25 cents, or simply go to any kiosk to add time to your particular space, no matter where your stall is located. If you don't want an alert, there's no reason to give Luke, the pay station, your phone number.

n Five hours is the maximum amount of time allowed at any one stall. Seven stalls are limited to 25 minutes. Note the information that is displayed your stall marker. This means you can't, for instance, add two hours if you've already used up four hours.

n There is free parking at Eastview School (Dunn Field lot) and in the lot at the intersection of Sage and Geneva streets.

n There are seven 25-minute stalls. There are two at Starbucks, the library and Pot Belly's and one at the Post Office.

n Contrary to some reports regarding handicapped placards, the state only allows people with a handicapped tag to park an unlimited amount of time IF the stall is for a half hour or more. So, the 25 minute handicapped stalls are legitimate. However, in order to get 25 minutes you must pay 50 cents as the kiosks only allow for 25 cent increments (and, of course, 25 cents is the minimum payment.) The state website notes that display of a handicap sticker "Is exempt from any parking ordinance imposing time limits of one-half hour or more and is subject to the laws relating to parking."

n If you have a sticker given to locals (it's blue) you get two hours of continuous free parking a day no matter where you park starting when the vehicle's tires are first marked. According to the city, "this gives the resident the opportunity to move their vehicle from stall to stall within the initial two hour framework. They cannot park at a stall and move it to another stall and have their two hours start again." If you park at one stall and move to another, the machine will know the time you've accumulated. It will even know if you move to a non-metered area that stipulates two-hour parking.

No fooling Luke.

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