Downtown Flint installing new metered parking system featuring a 'forgiving' option

FLINT, Michigan—Downtown Flint is getting a new parking system that officials are promising to be “forgiving.”
Called Flint AutoPark, the new system is being rolled out throughout the main downtown corridors. It features a somewhat more traditional system with meters stationed right at parking spots — but the feature officials are really promoting is an option that allows people to avoid getting a parking ticket even if they exceed their paid time. 
As long as visitors are within the two-hour maximum, they can simply return to their meter and pay for any excess time at the normal rate of 25 cents for 15 minutes to avoid being issued a $25 ticket, said Gerard Burnash, executive director of the Flint Downtown Development Authority.
“We wanted to create a parking system that uses modern technology to create the best possible visitor experience,” Burnash said.
The meters themselves are fully digitized and operate with a touch screen. Burnash noted how much easier the screens are to read and said those visiting downtown will also find them easier to use. 
Although meters are located at each spot, you can actually pay — or add time — at any meter, not just the one nearest your parking spot.   
With the Flint AutoPark system, each parking spot includes a lighted marker and all parking spots are numbered. Drivers pay at the new meters by entering their spot number and paying with either credit card ($1 minimum) or depositing change. Visitors also soon will have the option of paying from their phones using the Sentry Mobile app, Burnash said.
Throughout the month of October, warnings and longer grace periods will be issued to allow those parking downtown an opportunity to adjust to the new system which uses video cameras and staff to monitor for parking violations. Parking tickets will be mailed to violators. 
While calling the previous parking system antiquated, Burnash also noted that the new system is easier to administer and more cost effective because it is being leased. 
The parking kiosks were installed seven years ago and due for an expensive software update, he said. Flint AutoPark is being installed and maintained with no direct cost to the DDA. Revenue generated by Flint AutoPark will be shared by the DDA and vendor, Municipal Parking Services.
The metered parking spots also allow for 5 minutes of free parking to allow for drop-off and pickup or a quick errand.

Read more articles by Marjory Raymer.

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