Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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State-of-the-art parking kiosks a good ‘change’

by Lisa Seiser

October 06, 2011

The ink isn't even dry, so to speak, on a contract to buy the 60 new state-of-the-art parking station kiosks and all I'm hearing and reading are complaints.

People are whining about having to walk a few extra steps to the stations after they park and how it's going to be more time consuming and inconvenient. Others are complaining about having to remember their parking space number or how they may have to actually read and use their brain to figure out how to work the new machines.

The cost of the new system also appears to be irking some people. With an $810,000 price tag, this system nearly matches the cost of the new aerial ladder truck. It's slightly less than all the road work that will occur in the city during the next three years.

To be honest, this talk is falling on deaf ears. These complaints are just a symptom of what ails this community — a fear and hatred of progress and change (and I don't mean quarters and dimes).

The fact is, communities that don't look forward and try to make improvements get left behind. This parking system is one of those improvements and forward-thinking ideas.

This is not just about whether those who park are able to go to the old-school familiar meter in front of their car and plug in some quarters or whether they have to walk a few steps to a state-of-the-art machine and swipe their credit card.

This is about planning for a future — one that already includes more cell phone use and credit card use for everything. This is about being able to create more city revenue using the new technology and in the end, make it a better experience for visitors and residents alike.

Coin-operated parking meters are a thing of the past. Parking pay station kiosks are the future.

Although it has been written before, these stations can easily be adjusted to create different parking rates depending on the day, the area and time. That means the city could charge more per hour for parking on Main Street on a Saturday, versus a Wednesday or compared to Broad Street a few blocks off the lake. You can't do that with 20-year-old coin-operated parking meter heads.

These stations will allow people to add more time using their cell phone, while sitting in a restaurant or standing in the checkout line at a retail store. Visitors can even receive text message reminders that they are closing in on the end of their allotted parking time and they should add more.

When I think of the benefits these new machines will provide, I recall this summer's trip to the Wisconsin Dells. We parked on a side street where there were the old meter heads similar to Lake Geneva. The main difference there is you can use more than just quarters.

Anyway, after putting in a few quarters and dimes, which at that time seemed like enough, I looked at my watch and we headed off on our adventure. Needless to say, several times during the next few hours, I looked at my watch to make sure we had enough time remaining on the meter.

We ended up walking back to the car to fill the meter again. Looking back, it sure would have been nice to sit in the tavern with my cheeseburger and fries and add time to my parking place without going back to the car only to put more time on the meter.

The fact is, these new pay station kiosks will be installed here in Lake Geneva. People will have to learn how to use them, if they haven't already figured it out during their travels to Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and other places around the country.

Eventually, it will become second nature to use these machines.

Like many other changes that occur around us, a year or two down the road, many will wonder why they complained about these new parking kiosks at all.

The visitors and residents certainly won't remember the "good ol' days" when after you pulled into your parking stall, you had to race into the store near where you parked to ask for change in quarters, because you didn't have any to plug the meter.

Instead, they will wonder why we ever hung on to those ancient, quarters only, turn the handle parking meter heads for so long.

Seiser is the editor of the Regional News.