2015-04-30 / Front Page

May 1 Means Meters

By Lynne Tungett

On Narragansett Avenue, a new pay-by-plate device has been installed near the restrooms at Forty Steps. (Photo by James Merolla) On Narragansett Avenue, a new pay-by-plate device has been installed near the restrooms at Forty Steps. (Photo by James Merolla) While the old winter adage "feed a cold, starve a fever" is familiar, there is an old Newport adage that rings true in springtime: “Starved for space? Feed a meter.”

May 1 marks a time of renewal in Newport – warm weather, buds and flowers, and the official start of the parking meter season.

Metered parking is in effect from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, including weekends and holidays, through Halloween.

Meters will swallow coins, credit cards, and, this year in one particular spot, license plate numbers, through Oct. 31. It is a vital source of city revenue, but you might be surprised where the collected chunk of change goes.

According to Transportation Supervisor Patrick Segerson, there are 379 single space meters in Newport, plus 32 spaces in the Touro Court lot (behind the Jane Pickens Theater) and 35 in the Long Wharf lot (near the Newport Yacht Club). All take coins and are equipped to handle credit cards.

In 2014, the meter season brought a gross of $656,000 into city coffers, up from $634,000 in 2013. That gross is accumulated at $1.25 per hour, in increments of 25 cents. The fee along Memorial Boulevard for Easton’s Beach is $2 per hour. Beach meters alone generated slightly more than $42,000.

According to Laura Sitrin, city director of finance, “There is a parking fund that is separate from the general fund. The parking fund is fully supported by user fees. The [expired meter] tickets offset contributions into the police pension fund.”

A ticket for allowing the meter to expire costs $25; it doubles if not paid in 30 days. Parking on a residents only street without a sticker nets the offender a $50 fine.

But the impressive six-digit figure is not all profit. The meters are leased for more than $190,000 per season, which includes the expenditures to install, repair and/or replace the devices. The nearly 20 seasonal traffic aides’ salaries are paid from the fund. Segerson said the two or three attendants working year-round are paid from the Parking Fund, as well as the cost of ticket collections.

Meters are emptied twice weekly by personnel from Standard Parking, the meter managing company. “It is a very controlled, threeperson operation,” said Segerson. “It is very safe.”

A new feature at Cliff Walk is a “pay-by-plate” device on Narragansett Avenue, near the Forty Steps. Visitors there enter their license plate number into the meter.

The meter reader prints a list of plates on cars that have paid and then walks along Narragansett Avenue, confirming those plates. Those not listed by the machine will get ticketed. But don’t worry; the meters accept coins, bills and cards.

Aides still chalk tires after two hours along unmetered spaces on Broadway, Bellevue, Spring and Thames. Newporters are reminded that a resident sticker does not exempt them from paying at metered spaces.

The Gateway Visitor’s Center parking lot will be open daily from 8 a.m. to midnight. It has 484 spaces. The Mary Street parking lot, with its 118 spaces, will be open Sunday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. The basic rate is $2 for the first halfhour and $1.50 for each half-hour thereafter. City residents displaying a valid resident sticker are entitled to up to three hours of continuous parking once per day in the Gateway and Mary Street lots with a maximum charge of $24.

There has also been one important directional change. Sgt. Jonathan Cortes of the Newport Police Department’s Community & Traffic Services Unit, said, “Traffic has been reversed in the Touro Court lot. There is a new entrance on Clarke Street with the exit onto Touro Street. The street has been repaved and restriped, at significant expense.”

For more information, call 401- 845-5712.

More Information

The primary source for information concerning parking meters is the city ordinances, available on the city’s website (cityofnewport.com) on the “Government” page. Title 10 addresses Vehicles & Traffic. Parking in general is under 10.20; metered streets are listed under 10.20.180; regulations of metered areas is under 10.20.200.

There is also a Parking Guide on the Parking & Transportation Page (under Departments). The guide is a color-keyed map that indicates which streets have meters, as well as areas with limited or no parking. The city’s parking lots are also indicated on the map. The reverse of the Guide provides basic information on the parking lots, metered parking, and parking restrictions.

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