This article was originally published in the November 2018 Princeton Echo.
Mark down Monday, November 5, as the much anticipated replacement day for parking meters in Princeton. The thinking behind the new meters has been explained at numerous town council meetings, in one highly detailed parking study, in a Saturday morning presentation at Princeton Future, and in a comprehensive article in the Echo (June, 2018). More recently the town announced the discontinuation of the old Smart Card (in today’s world of parking technology considered not so smart).
The town has taken out full page ads in the weekly newspapers. In this issue of the Echo, the Princeton Merchants Association addresses the changeover.
For all that advance planning, don’t expect the changeover to be easy. Parking is a hot button in any town. Last month at the Princeton Chamber’s business breakfast, the topic was what Princeton people could do to help Trenton. The subject of parking came up. Tom Gilmour, executive director of the Trenton Downtown Association, noted that the capital city was considering a parking meter conversion of its own. Having overseen a conversion to smart meters in his previous business development job in Asbury Park, Gilmour was able to offer some counsel for his counterparts in Princeton: If this town is like most others that have revamped their parking procedures, “at first everyone is going to hate it,” Gilmour said. But as people get used to it and understand how it works, “they’re going to love it.”
We have already seen the first eyebrow raised regarding the new parking technology, in this letter from Linda Sipprelle:
“Around October 12, 2018, all parking meters were removed in Princeton. Since that time there has been free parking for everyone every day. During this period, the amount of money that has been lost to Princeton government coffers is substantial. Why were the old parking meters removed before the new ones were ready to be installed?”
We forwarded the letter on to Mayor Liz Lempert and Town Engineer Deanna Stockton, but never got a response. Our guess: They are up to their ears in the process (with eight meter installers working the last week in October) and trying to exactly time the removal with the replacement would take them even deeper into the morass. For information visit www.ipsgroupinc.com/princeton.