November 03



TheBPlot Exclusive…

Right or wrong, everyone’s got an opinion about the new downtown parking fees and rules.  But what had a handful of citizens emailing me this week was the Asbury Park Department of Public Works’ inability to facilitate an easier transition by making it uneventful for visitors to get a refund for parking fees.

This week, area residents who visited the DPW offices on Main Street during regular business hours (how are out of towner’s supposed to get help?) seeking to turn their “refund tickets” into appropriately credited SmartCards were turned away by the receptionist.

Area visitors due refunds for downtown parking fees were turned away by the DPW

“I have not been trained on the system,” the frustrated DPW employee told TheBPlot, after she attempted to call someone.  “I am sorry, let me take your name and phone number.  Someone will call you.”

Really, Asbury Park Department of Public Works?  Fees for downtown parking have been planned for months.  Now, almost two weeks into the new program, the receptionist has not been trained appropriately?  When did you think it would be a good idea to get this started?

Beyond the fact that it’s a sin people have to pay for parking to spend money downtown, the DPW sure isn’t doing its part to make the transition smooth.

If the bigger issue was downtown residents using all the parking spaces instead of parking in the garage or other designated areas, there has to have been a better way.   Other towns make parking between 4 am and 6 am illegal to mitigate overnight parking hogs.

As much as I admire, love and support local business owners, I absolutely think twice about going downtown for quick shopping trips now that I have to add another process into the mix.

“You want to make it as easy as possible for people to choose to come to Asbury Park – for the big and small things,” said one area resident.  “Greed trumped reason in this case.  There were other, more suitable options.  Charging for parking should have been a last resort two years from now.”

When a city employee talks about the revenue generated at the beachfront from parking fees, he never makes mention of the resources drained because of the parking meters.  How much does it cost to have a police office stationed at each pay station during the high season?  How much does it cost now to have the DPW employee manage refunds?  How much does it cost to make sure each pay station always has paper and is in working order?  What is the financial impact to the city because frustrated visitors don’t want to come back after wrestling with the pay station?

I predict another expensive municipal job being created in the DPW.

TheBPlot is waiting for a return call from the department head.