February 7, 2012 –Downtown Pensacola is bringing parking into the 21st Century with the Park First Plan, a comprehensive strategy that includes a customer-friendly meter system that utilizes solar-powered paystations to replace the current mechanical meter blight.
As the vibrant, downtown business community continues to prosper, automobile parking strategies have continually evolved to accommodate the increase in visitors, patrons, business owners, and the downtown workforce. Metered parking spaces have provided revenue to maintain the necessary turnover of curbside parking spaces used each day.
“Some of the old mechanical meters are more than 50 years old,” said Franklin Kimbrough, Executive Director of the DIB, “Many are an eyesore, function poorly, have no capacity to accept anything but quarters, and require patrons of the downtown area to constantly ‘feed the meter’ to enjoy the unique offerings or experiences in downtown,” he added.
Beginning around February 20, 2012, a contractor will be replacing approximately 200 old mechanical meters with 28 solar-power and wireless paystations along Jefferson Street, Government Street, and Baylen Street in the downtown area. With this installation, Pensacola will become the 54th jurisdiction in Florida, and the first in the panhandle, to make this change. The paystations, which use the exact same technologies that were installed in Downtown New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, will also offer a wider range of payment options including credit cards and American coins, except pennies, and provide an extended range of available time allotment from 6 minutes to 5 hours.
Not only will the new paystations make payment and time options more flexible, they also give users the freedom to take their time with them. Because they employ “pay and display” technologies, once the user places their receipt in their window, they are allowed to park in any other paid on-street public parking space in the downtown district until their time runs out.
Additionally, while the mechanical meters on Government, Baylen and Jefferson streets are being replaced with paystations, the remaining electronic meters left on other downtown streets will be retrofitted to also take nickels, dimes and quarters.
Lastly, all curbside parking that is now free remains that way, with the exception of approximately five spaces on S. Baylen Street between Garden and Romana St.