2014-07-11 / Community

Beach parking kiosks up and running

Ability to pay at the beach expected to boost overall beach pass count, decrease ticket writing
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


Beach pass dispensing kiosks were installed June 27 at Mother’s Beach, above, Middle Beach and Gooch’s Beach. They are for nonresident parking passes only. 
(Alex Acquisto photos) Beach pass dispensing kiosks were installed June 27 at Mother’s Beach, above, Middle Beach and Gooch’s Beach. They are for nonresident parking passes only. (Alex Acquisto photos) KENNEBUNK — Beachgoers who are nonresidents have to make one trip in order to spend a day at the beach this summer: to the beach itself.

Now that there are three kiosks dispensing parking passes at the corners of each of the town’s three beaches – Middle (Narragansett Point, or Oak’s Neck), Mother’s and Gooch’s – nonresidents can save a trip to town to procure beach passes and avoid the annoyance of losing a coveted parking spot.

In April, Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told the board of selectmen that giving nonresidents the option of purchasing beach parking passes onsite will have many advantages. “First, yes it is a convenience. The second part of it is, I think we will see some increase in our total beach passes. We have roughly about $110,000 to $115,000 a year in beach passes. In the long term I think we’re going to reduce some staff time in the field so our officers (who are writing the tickets) can do a little bit more work and community policing in that area as opposed to just writing tickets all day.”

The cost of beach parking in Kennebunk this season was raised by $5: a day pass for a nonresident is now $20, a weeklong pass is $75 and a season pass is $150.

Head lifeguard Joey Luchini said in summers past, after finally finding a parking spot, people would approach his stand and ask where to buy beach passes.

Luchini would then have to break the news that parking passes could not be bought onsite, but had to be purchased at a handful of locations in town, including town hall. The newly installed kiosks, said Luchini, “will save me a lot of angry faces.”

Now when people ask, “It’s easy for me to say, yeah, it’s just a short walk down there,” Luchini said as he pointed to Narragansett Point.

The kiosks were installed Friday, June 27. The town paid $24,000 for the Cale America machines.

A luxury that town administration has with the electronic kiosks is the capability to immediately track ticket sales. A little more than two weeks after the kiosks were installed, 175 day permits, eight, one-week permits and 12 season permits have been sold, totaling $5,900, said Kennebunk Finance Director Joel Downs.

Also trackable are maintenance issues.

“In fact, one machine was sending me alerts all weekend telling me that the printer was having a problem,” Downs said. “It was working, but showing intermittent errors. The printer on that unit will be fixed in the next day or two. Via the web, I can see the status of each kiosk, and each transaction in real time.”

The kiosk located at Narragansett Point and Middle Beach has, so far, been the busiest, Downs said.

Information about the new kiosks has been distributed via local newspapers, through the chamber of commerce and by word of mouth.

Downs agreed with Luchini that the feedback has been very positive.

“When Town Manager Barry Tibbetts, Recreation Department Director Brian Costello and I were at the beach on Friday (June 27) afternoon to take possession from the manufacturer, Cale America, several beachgoers thought the kiosks were a great idea, (and) very convenient for our visitors. The three of us were there at the machine when the first user purchased a day permit. The user said the interface was very easy to understand. She had no problems.”

Cale America beach kiosks can be found in nearby areas, including at beaches in Portland, Old Orchard Beach and Wells.

Said Downs, “These types of parking permit machines are becoming very common; therefore, the acceptance levels seems very high.”

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