July 3, 2018

Proposed Parking Program Would Let Private Properties Benefit Too

By Anne Levin

On June 11, Princeton Council voted to introduce a resolution awarding a contract to PassportParking, Inc. for a new app that allows people to pay for parking through their mobile phones. An implementation that will ultimately replace the Smart Card, the program “takes Princeton into the 21st century,” Mayor Liz Lempert said.

One of the key features of the program, recommended by consultants Dixon Resources Unlimited, is that it allows the town to share parking services with the owners of private properties, such as churches and businesses, that might have spaces available during their off hours.

“I met with the Interfaith Clergy Council last week, and several churches were interested in the ability to monetize sharing their parking lots,” Councilman David Cohen said at the meeting. “There may be some private owners interested, too. We should be trying to publicize this to determine interest.”

Speaking further about the program last week, Cohen said there are various ways it can work. For example, a property owner might have 20 spaces that are free during evening hours. The owner could make them available and payments could be made at a kiosk, so no effort would be involved for the owner.

While some churches might have spaces available at night, every church is different. “Private businesses are the other real potential,” Cohen said, using the example of a building on Chambers Street that has a parking garage attached. “They probably don’t use the spaces evenings.”

Last year, the town hired Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates to do an inventory and analysis of Princeton’s existing parking system. The company provided recommendations for improving the system and suggested the Dixon firm as part of an effort to move forward and implement those recommendations.

The goal right now, Cohen added, is to identify property owners who want to participate in the program, and put them in touch with the consultants. Municipal engineer Deanna Stockton said there are still some business rules that need to be determined related to how people can offer their parking to the public.

Lempert said it might be a good idea to put together a presentation, possibly at Princeton Public Library, for interested groups. “It’s a great opportunity to leverage some of the pavement that is going unused,” she said.

For further information on participation, contact Deanna Stockton at engineering@princetonnj.gov.