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December 19, 2012

Parking meter solutions for the Corner

NORMAN — Competition to earn a city bid for high-tech parking meters is heating up, and Norman could benefit from that healthy touch of free enterprise.

Campus Corner merchants have asked for new parking meters that will accept credit cards and are programmable to adjust rates according to changing needs on the corner.

The project will be bid before any purchase is made. Campus Corner merchants are hoping for installation as early as next May. While being low bidder is important, the quality, capabilities and features various companies offer will weigh in the city’s decision about which vendor to use.

“We will develop a document for them to bid on, based on what capabilities we want to see in the system and what the recurring costs are,” said David Riesland, city traffic engineer. “There are charges associated with running the system whether that’s credit cards or cell phone payment — whatever that may be.”

The primary goal expressed by the Campus Corner Merchant’s Association is to make parking easier and more accessible for customers. By using meters that accept payment by credit card — many of which also can renew with a smart phone if shopping takes longer than anticipated — means people don’t have to hunt for change or risk getting a ticket.

But merchants also want to increase parking fees. Currently, the charge is only 25 cents for an hour. With increased rates, Campus Corner merchants hope to deter employees using the on-street parking spaces as well as students who have parked there to attend class rather than patronizing a business.

“The primary goal to improve our parking for Campus Corner customers,” said H. Rainey Powell, a Merchants Association Board member. “With modern technology, we have a number of options of things we can do in the future. These new meters offer a number of features which will be advantageous.”

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