Summit Offers Pay-by-Cellphone Option to Those Using Parking Lots; Four Firefighters Take Oaths, Three Advance to Higher Rank

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SUMMIT, NJ—Shoppers and other motorists using the parking lots in Summit’s central business district soon will be able to avail themselves of the convenience of paying for parking fees simply by loading an “app” onto their cell phones and scanning a bar code into a parking gate or meter to pay for the time they have been parked in the lots.

The new pay option, along with cash, credit cards and merchant-issued coupons, was finalized by the Summit Common Council at its meeting on Wednesday evening.

The cellphone pay system will be administered by ParkMobile, which will process the deduction of the appropriate fee from the user’s bank account.

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Parking Services Manager Rita McNany told the council the ultimate aim is to create a “cashless” system that would reduce the time, manpower and expense needed to collect and deposit cash.

For the time being though, she said expansion of the cellphone payment system to on-street meters probably would be too expensive because it would involve a capital outlay of about $200,000 to retrofit the on-street meters with apparatus capable of accepting cellphone-activated payments.

The parking lots in the central business district are being fitted for the new system as park of the conversion to paid shopper parking in those lots.

Although in favor of the convenience of the new system, Councilman Thomas Getzendanner said the city was in “way over our heads” in trying to administer such a system and should completely turn over its parking system to a professional, privately-held company.

He also said that, instead of the city absorbing the administrative costs of the cellphone and credit card systems, it should immediately bill those costs directly to the user when the user completes each transaction, similar to the Easy Pass collection system.

Getzendanner added, as with Easy Pass, the administrative cost per user is so small that the individual users probably would not even notice the extra charge on their bill.

However, he noted, the accumulated administrative cost to the city could be substantial.

Council President Richard Madden replied that no matter which system is used those using the system should be told up front the total cost of using it, including the administrative costs.

“They should not be under the impression they are paying $1.00 to park and then find out later the total cost is $1.25.”

Councilman David Bomgarz said, however, that city control of the system was needed so Summit could “tweak” the charges if needed to accommodate larger costs of maintaining the system in the future.

In response to a question from Councilman Patrick Hurley McNany said the city would not be losing money on coupons issued by merchants because the merchants would buy the coupons from the city at “par” value even though they will be able to issue them at discounts to their customers.

She added the parking agency would monitor the number of tickets issued to each merchant monthly and provide the council in the future with an accounting of the financial status of the program.

In another action, Mayor Ellen Dickson swore in new firefighter Christopher Esposito and administered oaths of office to newly-promoted Deputy Chief Eric Evers, Lieutenant Kenneth Jenks and Battalion Chief David Guida. A standing-room-only crowd of family members and fellow public safety officers looked on.

The mayor also proclaimed September First Aid Squad Month in honor of the 50th anniversary of the city’s volunteer squad and set September 17 through 23 as Constitution Week in the city, assisted by a representative of the Summit chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In other council action, the governing body approved a renovation project that will bring greater pedestrian access and Americans With Disabilities Act compliance to the Reeves-Reed Arboretum, lent its support to the Beacon Hill Club’s efforts to add its name to the New Jersey Register of Historic Buildings, authorize investigation of the Railroad Avenue parking lot for possible redevelopment, pending review of the move by the city solicitor, and authorized the payment of $60,000 to Hilltop Parmley Partners for provision of three affordable housing units in the city.

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