2017-04-27 / Front Page

With May Comes End of Free Parking

By Olga Enger

It is not only the season for daffodils in Newport, but the warm weather marks the beginning of the parking season, when traffic aides will be patrolling Newport’s streets, enforcing unpaid meters and the residential sticker program.

The city operates five public parking lots at Mary Street, the Gateway Center, Touro Street, Long Wharf and King Park, with meters enforced from May 1 through Oct. 31.

New this year is a "Pay & Display" unit at the Mary Street lot, which has 118 spaces. The lot will operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The rates are $3 per hour, $20 per day and $30 for overnight. Newport residents with a valid resident sticker are entitled to three hours of daily free parking.

"We are estimating savings of about $100,000 per year," said City Finance Director Laura Sitrin about the new system.

Last year, the parking program cost $1.4 million to operate, with a total revenue of $1.8 million. The meter revenue was $843,349, up from $685,996 in 2015. The additional 2016 revenue collected at city lots was: $4,750 at King Park; $303,210 at Mary Street; $666,342 at Gateway Parking; and $105,000 at Gateway Marriott.

"The parking fund is a self-supporting fund wherein the operations and capital expenses are paid for with user fees. The monies are restricted to parking operations and costs," said Sitrin.

Metered parking will be in effect from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, including weekends and holidays. The fee is $1.25 per hour in increments of 25 cents. The fee for the meters on Memorial Boulevard at Easton’s Beach is $2 per hour. All city meters accept credit cards or coins.

In 2015, a "Pay-by-Plate" multi-space parking meter was installed on Narragansett Avenue, near the Forty Steps restroom. Users may select up to four hours of parking and enter their license plate number into the system.

A ticket at an expired meter will cost $25, which doubles if not paid in 30 days. Parking on a residents-only street without a sticker nets the offender a $50 fine. Ticket revenue offsets contributions to the police pension fund.

A resident sticker does not permit residents to park for free at metered spaces.

The Gateway Visitor’s Center parking lot will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight, beginning May 1. Due to a delay in the arrival of the new lot equipment, the lot will operate as a flat fee, pay-on-entry parking lot with weekday rates of $10 and weekend rates of $20. Regular parking rates of $2 for the first 30 minutes and $1.50 for each subsequent 30 minutes will become effective with the installation of the new equipment in June. A renovation project at the Gateway Center is expected to be completed by July 2017.

The residential parking program is enforced May 1-Oct. 1. Parking is restricted in designated areas to vehicles displaying residential permits, a general visitor pass or a temporary residential parking permit. Resident stickers are available in the collections office at Newport City Hall.

Details of the parking program are outlined in Chapter 10.32 of the city’s Code of Ordinances, which is available at cityofnewport.com.

The Buzz on Facebook: What Residents Say About Parking

Parking in Newport can be a challenge, especially when the city is bustling with visitors. We asked our Facebook followers," How do you think Newport could improve parking for residents and visitors?"

Below is what a few people had to say. To join the conversation or read all of the comments, visit Newport This Week on Facebook.

Jennifer V: Park-n-Ride: Add more bus stops to include popular tourist locations, as well as cheap or free parking areas. Make the bus go to these stops frequently. Should be easy to pay (the bus accepts credit cards, or better, ApplePay) for out-of-towners who don't have a bus pass or exact change. Post bus route at each stop, or at least at the most popular stops, and online. Put the bus route on Google maps, so people can plan their route ahead of time. Bonus: make the buses electric or have them run on clean fuel.

James W: There are some innovative parking garages in Japan. We should consider them.

Matt G: Multi-level garage at Mary Street and additional multilevel parking at the visitor’s center.

Tom P: We live in Newport, but in the summer many tourists park in the restricted [sticker] parking areas particularly on Spring Street, the library parking lot, in front of St. Mary's on Memorial Boulevard, Redwood Street, and I'm sure many more. I have no problem with the tourists as long as they read the signs. It's a nice thing that Newport gives the residents parking stickers, but they need to enforce the rules for illegally parked cars. Parking garages would be a great idea.

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