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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wichita eyes new parking meters for Century II

BY BRENT D. WISTROM
The Wichita Eagle

Wichita may test new parking meters at Century II that let drivers pay with a credit card, get text messages warning before the meter expires and feed it by phone.

The machines would serve multiple parking spots.

Drivers would pull up, walk to the meter kiosk, pay and post a sticker on the inside of their windshield.

The move is part of a pilot project City Council members discussed Tuesday. The idea will be shared with the city's library board, which shares the parking lot with Century II, before being implemented.

Adam Bentley, a management fellow in the city manager's office, said the multi-space meters would cost the city less to operate and would pay for themselves in three to nine years.

The meters have a15-year life expectancy and are common in other cities.

If the move is approved by the city manager, the city would tear out the 375 individual meters at Century II, some of which produce errors that lead to people getting parking tickets.

Eight of the multi-space meters would be installed, and the city would analyze how they're doing for a year.

The meters would let the city quickly adjust parking prices based on what events are happening.

Mayor Carl Brewer scoffed at the idea of increasing parking prices when Wichita is trying to improve its parking plans downtown.

But City Manager Robert Layton said the city has no plans to change the rates.

Council member Jeff Longwell said that if the proposed meters cost less and offer more payment options, they sound like a good idea.

"That's the kind of technology I think people would like to see in this town," he said.

Reach Brent D. Wistrom at 316-268-6228 or bwistrom@wichitaeagle.com.

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