Kiosks fail in Collingswood; parking temporarily free

Originally from the Courier Post

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COLLINGSWOOD — Talk about a sidewalk sale: Drivers are getting a break from parking fees in the Haddon Avenue business district in Collingswood.

Parking kiosks along the strip of shops and restaurants are malfunctioning and have been disabled until further notice. Borough workers have placed yellow signs on the machines that read: “Kiosk system currently down. 3 Hour Parking. NO FEE. Thank you! Collingswood.”

“We decided to shut them down until we get new ones,” explained Mayor Jim Maley. “We expect to have new ones up in September.”

Maley said the contract for new kiosks is still up for bid, but he expects it will be on the agenda for the next commissioners’ meeting on Aug. 5.

No one was complaining about the curbside kiosks on Wednesday.

“I think free parking is awesome,” said Paul Colucci of Atlantic City, visiting the Pop Shop with Samantha Tripet.

“Especially if you come to patronize the stores,” added Tripet, also an Atlantic City resident.

Reed Orem, a Haddon Avenue merchant who had called for the free-parking policy, said repeated breakdowns of the parking system were a headache for shoppers and storekeepers alike.

“People were so afraid of getting a ticket, they’d say, ‘I’ll shop somewhere else,’ ” said Orem, who runs a vintage furniture store called Dig This. He called the new policy “a win” for the entire town.”

When the parking system worked, a kiosk would print a receipt for display on a driver’s dashboard. But too frequently, Orem said, perplexed drivers would walk from one curbside machine to another in search of a functioning kiosk.

“It was a regular occurrence,” he said.

“And it wasn’t the (borough) administration’s fault. They were working hard.”

Cynthia Coral, an associate at Marlene’s Dress Shoppe, said she also saw visitors frustrated with the kiosks. She would tell them to park near meters a short distance away on North Atlantic Avenue. To her knowledge, said the Haddon Heights woman, “Nobody has gotten a ticket and it has been fine.”

The current kiosks have had ongoing “horrible electrical battery problems,” according to Maley. The machines are made by Metric Parking, which is based in the United Kingdom but has a distribution and customer service location in Mount Laurel.

Maley said the company’s president apologized for the issues.

The mayor added that the borough is in discussions with Metric Parking to return the kiosks for refunds. Failing that, he said, Collingswood might “sell them on eBay to minimize our losses.”

At Dig This, Orem acknowledged borough officials were making a financial sacrifice in shutting down the kiosks.

“It’s a great revenue source for our town,” he said of parking fees. “I’m in favor of it, as long as they’re working properly.”

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