Technology enhancements in the Town Hall parking garage will debut later this month, ending the period of free parking visitors have enjoyed during construction.
Last week, server connections and testing of the new equipment was finishing up. On the aesthetic side, trees were to be planted and flower planters installed on the exterior. New streetlights were expected to be shipped by mid-month. Barring any setbacks, Deputy Town Manager Keith Markel said the new technology will be operational by month’s end, likely after the Flower & Garden Festival, to avoid any confusion.
The work included the installation of pay stations within the garage that accept debit and credit cards, with the one nearest to the elevator also accepting cash, where drivers will pay before leaving. Upon exiting, drivers insert the ticket into a machine to be scanned, which will lift the gate. With the new improvements, drivers will now enter and exit from both the Loudoun and Market Street sides of the garage.
The enhancements also bring some changes to the overall pricing structure. The first two hours at the garage will now be free, and the downtown validation program—in which a second hour at the garage could be free with proof of visit to a participating downtown business—will be discontinued. Each hour at the garage beginning in the third hour will incur a $1 charge, with a maximum daily rate of $10. Weekends will remain free, as will parking after 7 p.m. on weeknights. Parking fees begin at 7 a.m. on weekdays.
Markel said the finance staff is not expecting a big revenue impact with the second hour of parking being free. With the gate at the garage remaining down at all times, some of the revenue “leakage” can be captured—such as when cars leave after 7 p.m., when the parking attendant typically closed for the day, or when cars park for multiple days.
“It’s not a money maker for us. It’s really about control, to make sure we have spaces available,” he said.
One area that could generate more revenue for the town is enhanced parking enforcement. The parking attendants who used to staff the garage and collected parking fees are now doing on-street parking enforcement as their core duty, including enforcing downtown residential parking permit zones, Markel noted.