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October 23, 2012

Norman parking going high tech

NORMAN — Leftover Campus Corner TIF funds could foot most of the bill for a new high-tech parking system on the Corner. Like the Downtown Merchants Association, the Campus Corner Merchants Association has been grappling with parking issues and a need for better customer access.

In both cases, high-tech meters could provide part of the solution.

Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary and City Traffic Engineer Angelo Lombardo have been working with the Campus Corner Merchants Association to gather information on a possible parking management system for the Corner that would be similar in features for metered system planned for the recently expanded Downtown parking lot.

“The goal here is to be a little more efficient with our parking,” O’Leary said. “This is our first attempt at modern meters that can use credit cards and cell phones.”

O’Leary and Lombardo presented information on the meters at Monday’s City Council Community Planning and Transportation committee meeting.

Lombardo said the city’s proposal includes multispace meters, hand held enforcement devices, and parking space vehicle sensors. The enforcement devices could be used at the Downtown parking lot as well as on Campus Corner if the same system or a similar were adopted.

Each pay station would be shared by 10-12 spaces. Parking slots would likely be marked with a numbered sign to identify the space and customers could use a variety of payment methods including tokens, credit cards and even a cell phone.

The enforcement tool is a handheld unit that dispenses the citation in the case of a violation. The sensor communicates with the parking meter unit to track occupancy. If one customer leaves, the next customer does not get to use the left over time.

“Basically we’re looking at a three component system,” Lombardo said.

Campus Corner merchants would be able to validate the machines to provide a customer refund. The system is “easy to reprogram if the management strategy changes,” Lombardo said.

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