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Village Council: Do We Need Parking Meters?

Ridgewood officials will be discussing whether they should purchase old-technology meters to replace broken machines or even whether they're worth having at all.

A larger discussion on the capital budget prompted the council to wonder are parking meters needed, and if so, should we go low-cost and utilize old meter technology or spend more on more convenient, modernized meters?

The overall capital request for the parking utility came in at around $382,000, mostly in the form of repaving or reconstructing lots, Village Manager Ken Gabbert told the council Wednesday night. He sliced all but $32,000, all but money set aside to replace the parking meters.

Mechanisms break, Gabbert said. "If we were not to keep up with parking meters – they get damaged al the time – we'd have more that don't work. That would affect revenue greatly."

Pressed by Mayor Paul Aronsohn, the manager said a study a few years ago revealed the village brings in and spends roughly the same amount on the parking utility – about $380,000 annually.

Should the village replace all the existing meters with kiosks or stations that allow citizens to pay be card, it would be "a sizable investment." Money is, he reminded the council, tight.

But Councilwoman Gwenn Hauck offered a different suggestion – why not swap out the old meters that break with new machines?

Besides demonstrating "mixed messages" on the village maintaining infrastructure, it could prompt people with mal-intentions to take matters into their own hands, Gabbert said.

"More meters would be damaged," he added.

Ultimately, reasoned Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli, a greater conversation needs to be had when it comes to the meters in town.

It led him to repeat a familiar hymn – if the business community already thinks parking meters are bad for business in the busiest of times, why do it at all?

A substantive discussion will be had over the next few months, Gabbert said.

What do you think? What should the council do with the parking meters?

Melvin Freedenberg November 12, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Sorry to be redundent but I have made suggestions before, which have been totally ignored. What kind of town runs what should be a profit making enterprise at break even. And then to spend more money on new, more sophisticated meters so instead of breaking even, the village should lose money. "Hello, anybody home?" Previously, I suggested that police and meter men should not be riding around in Escape hybrids but should be walking or on a bicycle. I suggested that parking enforcement should only be in the CBD and not two miles out where there are two hour parking signs. Those are a waste of money. The idea is to make money and not just be there to annoy people. The ideas I put forward are cost cutting measures but if you live in Ridgewood, it seems that it is beneath the village's aristocracy to walk and not to drive in a $30,000 vehicle to give out penny ante tickets. Something just doesn't jive. If we made some of the modifications I suggested, we could do with two meter men instead of three. If you insist on a vehicle, what is wrong with a Prius? "Hello, anybody home?"
jp1 November 12, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Agree with Mr. Freedenberg except for vehicles,why not get rid of some there are too many people using village cars and trucks for personal matters. Some sort of parking enforcement in the village is needed in the CBD only so you can get rid of the parking enforcement cars.
Brian November 12, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Judging by how few stores there are left downtown, it seems to me that the "greater than 2 hour parking" is a bit of a false problem. Commuters leaving cars there all day could be guarded against by having a 2 hour limit in place. But other than commuters and the merchants downtown, I would focus on getting people to stay downtown for longer than 2 hours (maybe they will buy something) instead of encouraging them to turn over spots.
Ridgewooder November 12, 2012 at 07:05 PM
No to meters.
News Man November 12, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Is the need for that "380,000" income or extortion to maintain that 'petty cash' account that everyone seems to feed off? Deputy Mayor Albert Pucciarelli offered that a greater discussion on "If Meters are bad for business" why have them at all? Gave me a thought to share. With an acceptable parking and business design on paper now, perhaps, "parking meters be installed only at the New Parking Garage(s) and Spaces"? In fact no meters would be needed if another method is used to collect charges. Something to think about?
VKC November 13, 2012 at 12:54 AM
IF RW is spending as much as it's bringing in with the meters I don't see the point. If new meters will take years to pay for themselves RW will probably be in the same boat when it comes time to update/repair the new meters.
VKC November 13, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Good points Melvin, bikes in spring and summer and Smart or some other high mileage, value cars in winter. they don't need SUVs
Mark Ruckhaus November 13, 2012 at 02:58 AM
It costs money for meters. It costs money to maintain meters. It costs money to enforce the meter rules, including traffic court and collections. How much does Ridgewood really net after the all the costs are considered? Then you can decide whether it's worthwhile to keep the meters.
Ridgewood Mom November 13, 2012 at 04:02 AM
Keep the meters. I agree with Melvin's suggestions.
James Jr. November 13, 2012 at 05:30 AM
Only perk I would see about investing in muni-meter type parking meters is the benefit of once a car leaves a spot any other car would be required to pay the meter and not get any "freebies" from any leftover time. Often times i'm able to find a meter with enough time left on the meter from a previous user to prevent myself from physically having to add any money. With the muni-meters you see in NYC, if I pay for time and leave the spot before the time is up - that is profit for the city as another car can occupy the space and start their time at zero. Now is the investment on these meters worth it--guess it depends on their installation and maintance cost.
dara brown November 13, 2012 at 10:25 AM
If it costs the same to operate as the revenue, its a fools game. Toss the meters. Chalk the tires to enforce the time limit. Its done successfully in many towns. Of course you will still have the merchant's employees wiping off the chalk, just as they 'feed the meters' now.
News Man November 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Now with more gas available, shoppers will start going back to the Malls where more choices for desired merchandise are available. Time to solve this problem now...... in 2013 ... !!!!!!
westwood kid November 13, 2012 at 12:50 PM
the town of ridgewood has more problems then most. westwood has no problems with leaf clean up ofr parking meters. we need to check and see who we put into office because they are not working to help the people on fatten up there own pockets
Moist Cake November 13, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Hey westwood kid, do us a favor, stay in westwood, you belong there and we dont need more cry babies and complainers here. Seems to me you miss ridgewood, being that you are on our patch! You can find your patch http://westwood-hillsdale.patch.com/
Aannoomm November 13, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Easy.... Seems like The Ridgewood Patch is gaining readers/commenters from other Ridgewood sites, because the comments section has gotten more testy! Can we stick to providing thoughtful solutions and ideas instead of name calling and bickering?
Ridgewood Mom 26 November 13, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Melvin, at least the Escape hybrids are American cars. Why would we buy Japanese Priuses for the the meter maids? I agree that they should not be "above" walking on their jobs, but I do, wholeheartedly, support the purchase of American cars for governmental purposes. And yes, I drive American, myself!
maureen November 13, 2012 at 02:44 PM
eliminate the meters !!! the parking authority is not a wash it has been a deficit(!) for years to the tune of $200,000 and go the way of Westwood, Maywood, Glen Rock and others . the math doesn't add up to keep it. Ridgewood needs to be a ONE WAY street . Angle the parking with paint( it's cheap ) and sell the meters to Englewood ..Voila ! a surplus.
Felicia November 13, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Businesses in neighboring towns want us to keep our meters because it sends business there way. Not good. Not only do we break even on this venture, but we create lots of ill will to boot. Really not good for the merchants. I have read, and someone awhile ago mentioned too, about towns forgoing charging parking but leaving the meters for charities....you donate if you'd like to, and each meter could be a specific charity. You would still have to deal w/the commuter parking issue. Perhaps a "no parking before 9 am" in most spots might do...(except where the busineses are open earlier of course!)
Mark Ruckhaus November 13, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Mom, An American nameplate doesn't mean the car was made here. And a foreign nameplate doesn't mean that the cars were made overseas.
News Man November 13, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Just posted a fifty year old (profile) photo that will keep reminding us these problems were the same at that time. Time to move on... the status quo cannot be accepted any longer.
Elliot Bloom November 13, 2012 at 03:00 PM
If cost and revenue are truly a wash at $380K, then it seems a decision to nix parking meters is perhaps the best solution. Moving to a limited time parking arrangement as many towns and villages do would present a more welcoming environment in the CBD to the benefit residents and visitors, alike. As a business owner in the CBD, I would welcome this positive change.
KB November 13, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I do hate our overzealous parking authority, but won't eliminating meter revenue leave us far behind budget-wise? The parking authority will still need to be paid to enforce the time limits and ticket revenue would probably go down as it would be slightly more difficult to identify those parked too long. Never being able to find a spot would discourage shoppers more than having to pay 50 cents to park....
AC Willment November 13, 2012 at 06:03 PM
It wouldn't matter to me, really, as the prices are so high (20% markup for the privilege of buying in Rwd rather than a mile away in Paramus?) and the retail mix is so poor (banks, restaurants, restaurants, banks) that I don't shop in Rwd anyway unless I absolutely have no choice. But I do occasionally take out-of-town friends to the restaurants and we might go on a day other than Sunday if they took out the metres.
jp1 November 13, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Mr. Ruckhaus an american car such as Ford or GM at least keeps the money in the US and not Japan or Germany.
AC Willment November 13, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Parking metres are not meant to be a profit-making enterprise. Their purpose is supposed to be to encourage turnover, so that people don't take up spaces, and more people get a chance to get in and out of the stores. BTW not only the cops should be biking and walking. I generally use a so-called adult trike for travel in town, but if you are going to buy any sizeable amount of stuff, you will need a car. I can't carry 120 lbs of birdseed from Midland Park, 4 to 8 bags of groceries from Rochelle Park and a satchel full of library books on a bike. (If I'm going only to the library and bank, that's a different matter. I can pedal that.) For the major haul, I need my coupe, which is not a hybrid (20 years old) but is gas thrifty, and with careful planning I can get it all done in one wide circuit. And what is with the people who insist on parking in the library lot in front of the entrance?!?! They do this even when the lot is almost empty. God forbid their Precious widdle kiddies should walk a few steps ... I think if they could, they'd ram their SUVs right up through the door to the desk. Some of them sit there idling for 1/2 hour while their kids are doing research or whatever.
Dan Johnson November 13, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Glen Rock and many other towns do without meters. Lets give it a try. Set a 2 hour limit. Leave the meters up during the test (which might even bring in some revenue from those who can't read the signs saying "2 hour parking is free" that will be posted). At the train station get rid of the meters too but charge $300 or so a year for a parking permit.
Mark Ruckhaus November 13, 2012 at 11:28 PM
That's a reach there, JP. Who's the third largest automaker in this country? Honda. So, while the profits may head back to Japan, they're likely doing far more investment in this country and hiring more workers here than, say, some other American companies like Apple and Nike. And, on the flip side, Ford and GM, who are the country's two largest automakers and who hire and produce plenty here, send more than a fair amount of business overseas and otherwise deal with foreign vendors. So, much of their profits are re-invested overseas. It's a tangled web and not that cut and dried. So, I'll ask you this: Would you by a Honda made here or a Ford made in Canada or Mexico? Or would you only consider some Fords?
Ridgewood lifer November 15, 2012 at 05:04 AM
I love how people think it's just "get rid of the meters all our problems are solved!" It may sound good but if complications arise from it, people won't be too thrilled. There are worse things in life than sparing a few quarters to park in this town.
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