Lake Geneva aldermen have agreed to spend about $500,000 to purchase new parking kiosks for the city’s downtown business district.
But how the new kiosks will operate has not been decided entirely.
The city council voted unanimously Feb. 25 to move forward with purchasing a new fleet of 66 kiosks to replace the existing push-button machines with touch-screen technology that officials hope will be easier for motorists.
The new kiosks, costing $7,500 each, will replace equipment that has been in place since 2011.
Sylvia Martinez-Mullally, the city’s parking operations manger, said Lake Geneva is following a growing trend among cities in moving parking to new touch-screen technology.
“People want to pay for their parking quicker,” Martinez-Mullally said. “That’s where the industry is going.”
However, some city officials remain uncertain about one particular characteristic of the new kiosks: They will not accept dollar bills, which the current kiosks do.
Credit cards or coins are the only options for motorists to pay the $1- to $2-an-hour cost of parking downtown.
Some aldermen already are talking about options for retrofitting the new kiosks or making other adjustments for downtown visitors who still want to feed the parking machine with dollar bills.
Martinez-Mullally said the city could spend an additional $1,000 to $1,500 per kiosk to equip them with devices capable of accepting dollar bills.
The council members agreed to go ahead with the $500,000 investment now, with the understanding that if there are issues with payment options later, the city could revisit the issue.
“I have no problem passing this, if we’re able to adjust if need be,” Alderman Ken Howell said.
The decision to replace the city’s existing kiosks followed an experiment with two prototypes that have been installed downtown for a few months, and have been declared to be successful replacement options.
Officials hope to have the new machines installed by Memorial Day.
If the payments options trouble patrons, Martinez-Mullally said, she could program the kiosks to allow people to have five minutes of free parking, so they would have time to get change when needed.
Alderman Doug Skates said allowing for five minutes of free parking would prevent some people from receiving unnecessary tickets while scrambling for change to feed the kiosk.
“I think that’s a really cool option,” Skates said. “I want to do it.”
Alderwoman Selena Proksa noted that the new kiosks will allow people to pay for parking with coins, a credit card or an online app that the city already offers.
“They still have three ways to pay,” Proksa said. “So, I think we’re over-thinking it, honestly.”
The city plans to purchase the new kiosks from Total Parking Solutions Inc. of Chicago in March and have them installed by the end of May.