Smart meters expected by February 1

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BRATTLEBORO — Details are being finalized for new parking meters coming to downtown.

"It's actually going to be less than what we thought it was going to be in the beginning," Select Board Chairwoman Kate O'Connor said Tuesday during a meeting.

The system and installation work will be purchased for $200,016 from IPS Group of San Diego, Calif. Originally the project was expected to cost $275,000 but site preparation ended up not being as involved as town officials thought.

The new "smart" meters and kiosks are planned to be functional by Feb. 1. Coins still will be accepted as will credit/debit cards, cash and cell phone payments. Current smart card holders will be reimbursed.

To pay for the project and make lighting improvements inside the Transportation Center, a loan from the utility fund to the parking fund will be paid back at 2.5 percent interest over five years.

Stephanie Bonin, executive director of Downtown Brattleboro Alliance, called for "an overall strategy" to address safety in the parking garage.

"You discussed the lighting as one, one subject in what could be a multi-prong strategy," she told the board. "The parking garage is one thing and lighting is one thing."

Bonin said she recently visited the Transportation Center at 9 p.m. one night and found it to be "quite bright." But Select Board member Tim Wessel said the concern had been highlighted in a survey done for a parking study conducted by Desman Associates of Boston.

Town Manager Peter Elwell said the lighting came before the board Tuesday because it was being considered with loan funding and it did not mean there would not be more discussion on additional safety measures later.

"I think we have to start somewhere," Select Board member Shanta Lee Gander said. "We need to take multi-steps and multi-approaches, and we're not going to do that at the same time."

Parking rates also will be going up after public hearings are held to amend the ordinance. The plan calls for hourly prices on Main Street to go from 75 cents to $1; Harmony Lot would go from 60 cents to $1; Preston would go from 60 cents to 70 cents; Municipal Center would go from 40 to 50 cents; and High Grove, Harris and the Transportation Center would each go from 30 cents to 40 cents.

Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland said the town will be able to change rates at all locations with "the click of a mouse at the computer, whereas if we were to do it utilizing our present equipment, we would have to go meter by meter by meter, kiosk to kiosk, and make manual changes." He expects to see the new equipment delivered in January.

In other business

- The Select Board awarded Dubois & King a bid for consulting services to prepare a master plan for the Tri-Park Mobile Home Park by June. The cost is not to exceed $71,214.

"The project involves identifying options for the relocation of mobile home units currently located in the floodway and regulated flood fringe at the Mountain Home Park," Planning Director Sue Fillion wrote in a memo. "The master plan will include an engineering analysis, financial analysis, relocation/removal strategy and community outreach."

In January, the town accepted a $30,000 grant from the Vermont Community Development Program with an agreement for the town to provide $40,000 through its Municipal Revolving Loan Fund and an additional $500 municipal contribution, according to the memo.

- The Recreation and Parks Department received $6,800 on behalf of Brattleboro-based rotary clubs to expand the disc golf course at Living Memorial Park. The Select Board accepted and appropriated the grant.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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