Council members tour paid parking facilities

Three of Fayetteville’s eight City Council members met Monday afternoon to tour the parking pay stations in the Dickson Street area.

Council members Brenda Thiel, Adella Gray, and Bobby Ferrell were given demonstrations of both types of parking lot pay stations as well as the walk-up, street-side kiosks.

The tour was at the request of Don Marr, the city’s chief of staff. Marr said he wanted to ensure that the aldermen were familiar with the equipment when they meet next month to evaluate the three-month-old paid parking plan.

“I think it’s important prior to going into that discussion that every one of you have seen the multiple ways the lots are used,” said Marr at a recent council agenda session. “I would like for you to actually do transactions on them so that we can get any ideas that you have as it relates to the understanding of how to use them.”

Transportation Services Director Terry Gulley and Parking and Telecommunications Manager Sharon Waters led the tour which began in the Walton Arts Center parking lot and ended in the lot just south of Grub’s Bar and Grille.

“The plan is to show you every scenario you could possibly encounter from pre-paying, to employee discounts, to making change, and on,” said Gulley.

After a few minutes with each of the equipment types, Thiel, Gray and Ferrell seemed comfortable with how each machine operates for the most part.

“It’s not that complicated,” said Gray.

Waters agreed and said the biggest problem people are having is understanding which slot to put cash and credit cards into.

“When you hear that the machines aren’t working it’s usually because people put their credit cards in here,” said Waters while pointing to the currency intake. “They cram their cards in the wrong slot and it jams it up.”

When that happens, Waters said the only thing people can do is push the assistance button and wait for someone from the city to come and physically clear the jam.

Between those incidences and the dozens of prank calls the city receives, Waters said the assistance officers stay very busy. She said it’s not uncommon for 27 calls to be answered by on-call officers after 3 a.m.

“But that number is down,” said Gulley, who recalled a night when 57 after-hours prank calls were made.

To answer the problem, Waters said the department is considering adding technology to the parking lot exits that would require a vehicle to be on the exit pad before an assistance call could be made.

The full council will meet at the regular December 7 meeting to discuss the plan as a whole and to take recommendations from staff who have been gathering data since the program launched in August.