An upcoming pilot program may change how parking fees are collected in downtown Potsdam for the better.

The village next year will put into effect a 90-day trial of a parking kiosk. If implemented throughout downtown, these kiosks would replace the parking meters that have been around for longer than anyone cares to remember. The parking rates, however, would remain the same.

The program was scheduled to begin this month. But officials opted to postpone it until next year because parking downtown is free each holiday season in November and December.

There are several advantages to using the parking kiosks rather than meters. For example, they provide options to paying the required fees other than feeding coins into a machine. This would eliminate the need for someone to stop at each meter and remove the coins that have been deposited.

Motorists will be able to use debit cards at the parking kiosks during the trial period. They will need to enter their parking space number and input how long they’ll be there.

Another method that would eventually be available is to submit a payment and indicate the car’s license plate number. A third pending alternative would be to pay the fee and receive a ticket to display on the car’s dashboard.

The parking kiosks are solar powered and have a backup battery. The company supplying the kiosks, the San Diego-based IPS Group, has implemented its Smart Parking Program in other communities such as Lake Placid. The firm also has been contracted to install its parking kiosks in Plattsburgh.

Village Administrator Gregory O. Thompson said the parking meters now in use are unsightly and hinder efforts to remove snow from sidewalks. Updating this system is a great idea, and we hope the trial goes well.

The village will be allowed to use one kiosk during the trial. Mr. Thompson said it would likely be located on Market Street, “the stretch in front of Sergi’s between Elm Street to Main Street.”

Potsdam also may participate in a pilot program to have village police officers use license plate readers. These would be provided by Vigilant Solutions, headquartered in Livermore, Calif.

“And what that will do is as the patrol car makes its way down through the village street, if a car’s time has expired, the license reader will pick up which cars are ticketable and let the officer know, thus saving us more money instead of having the officer walking the foot beat,” Mr. Thompson said in a story published Sept. 17 by the Watertown Daily Times. “I’m really looking forward to this trial and seeing it through and making it happen.”

We agree with Mr. Thompson that using these kiosks in lieu of meters would be an improvement for motorists who need to park downtown.

“I really think it would be a real step forward for the village to be able to get rid of the parking meters and just go to the kiosk style. … It will be an investment, we know that,” he said. “I’m looking forward to trying this. I’m really hoping we can make this work. … I really think it will make downtown Potsdam much more appealing, much more consumer friendly.”

This will be an opportunity for Potsdam to modernize this process, which would truly benefit downtown. We encourage people who make use of the parking kiosk next year to let village officials know how their experience went so they can properly assess the program’s value.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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