By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Is anyone looking to go into the parking business?
Sea Isle City is putting 30 parking kiosks up for sale.
But motorists shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that parking will be free in Sea Isle next summer once the kiosks are gone.
Actually, these parking kiosks are old and considered surplus property. City Council is expected to approve a resolution at its meeting Tuesday to dispose of the kiosks through the online public auction platform GovDeals.com.
“Some of those kiosks are 10 years old and have reached the end of their useful life. They haven’t been in service all summer,” Sea Isle Police Chief Tom McQuillen said in an interview Sunday.
Suggesting that their value is limited, McQuillen said the city hopes to get “a couple of bucks” for the parking machines.
Sea Isle still has plenty of other kiosks out on the streets to collect money from motorists who want to pay for their parking the traditional way – with cash, coins, credit cards or debit cards.
Parking fees are in effect each year from May 15 to Labor Day, coinciding with the busy summer tourism season.
This summer, Sea Isle introduced a cashless way to pay for parking through a mobile app available for both iPhone and Android devices.
The ParkMobile app was immediately popular and handled the overwhelming majority of parking transactions in Sea Isle – about 80 to 85 percent, compared to just 15 to 20 percent for the kiosks and meters, McQuillen said.
“That, to me, certainly shows there is a need for it. People find it convenient to use. That’s why we made it available,” he said of the app.
For vacationers, few things may be more annoying than having to interrupt a perfectly relaxing summer beach day to run back to plug the parking meter or kiosk with more money to avoid getting a ticket.
From the very beginning, Sea Isle has been touting the convenience of the app for motorists, especially if they want to avoid those frantic dashes from the beach to add more money to the meters or kiosks.
The app will send alerts to people when their parking is about to expire, so a user can simply extend the time right from their mobile devices.
There is another option for people who may not feel comfortable using the app. They may call a toll-free number listed on the ParkMobile signs to speak to the company’s customer service center and use their credit to pay for parking over the phone.
An extra benefit of the app is that motorists no longer have to worry about touching the meters or the kiosk keypads to pay for parking during the COVID-19 pandemic. The only thing they’ll touch is their own phone or mobile device.
The app can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or by visiting the ParkMobile website at https://parkmobile.io.
From a financial standpoint, Sea Isle would benefit from having just the app parking available because the city would not have to pay the cost of maintaining the electronic kiosks each year. The shore’s salt air takes a toll on the machinery, McQuillen noted.
With the parking app proving so successful in just its first year, Sea Isle plans to evaluate the remaining kiosks and meters to decide whether to bring them back for next year.
“Hopefully, we’ll get to the point where we’re strictly with the parking app,” McQuillen said. “We’re still looking into the feasibility of that.”
For now, the kiosks are covered up and inactive while free parking is in effect until next May.