By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City will finally say goodbye to its last remaining parking kiosks.
Altogether, the city is disposing of 17 of the aging kiosks using an online auction platform for surplus government property.
“These are the last of the kiosks,” Police Chief Anthony Garreffi said. “They have outlived their useful life.”
At its meeting Tuesday, City Council approved selling the kiosks on the auction site GovDeals.com. The kiosks were phased out this year when Sea Isle switched to a completely cashless system that allows motorists to pay for parking using an app or over the phone.
The last time the kiosks were used was the summer of 2021. At that time, Sea Isle gave motorists the choice of using the parking kiosks or the cashless ParkMobile app.
Using the kiosks had drawbacks. If their parking time was close to expiring, motorists had to rush back to plug the kiosks with more coins or cash to avoid getting a ticket.
Another disadvantage of the kiosks was the amount of money the city had to spend each year to maintain the machines. City officials said the kiosks were expensive to keep in good working order because the shore’s salt air took a toll on the electronics.
From the very beginning, Sea Isle has been touting the convenience of the ParkMobile app, especially if motorists wanted to avoid those frantic dashes from the beach, restaurants or other spots in town to add more money to the kiosks.
The app sends 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 card to pay for parking over the phone.
An extra benefit of the app is that motorists no longer have to worry about touching the keypads of the kiosks to pay for parking during the COVID-19 pandemic. The only thing they’ll touch is their own phone or mobile device.
Garreffi characterized the introduction of ParkMobile as a success. He noted that parking violations actually went down this year after Sea Isle switched to the cashless system.
“I think it worked out fine,” he said. “But we had some instances here and there with people who didn’t know how to use the app.”
City Councilman Jack Gibson said he was initially reluctant to make the switch to ParkMobile, but later became comfortable with the technology and the convenience of using an app.
“I experienced a lot of frustration in the beginning,” Gibson acknowledged. “When I finally learned how to use the app, I found out that it’s worthwhile not only in Sea Isle, but also in other areas of the country where you can use it. I didn’t like it in the beginning, but that was part of my own technical education.”
In Sea Isle, parking fees are in effect each year from May 15 to Labor Day, coinciding with the busy summer tourism season.
The ParkMobile app can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or by visiting the ParkMobile website at https://parkmobile.io. The app is available for both iPhone and Android devices.
In the meantime, anyone who may be interested in buying Sea Isle’s old parking kiosks can go to GovDeals.com.
Whether the old kiosks sell or not, they definitely will not be returning to Sea Isle’s parking system in the summer of 2023, Garreffi noted.
“Not in 2023,” he said. “All I can say is that it’s not in the plans for 2023 to bring them back.”