The Excelsior City Council voted 4-1 to approve the paid parking trial on Second and Third Streets between Center Street and Morse Avenue with direction from city staff members at its Feb. 16 meeting.
Councilmember Dale Kurschner voted against the motion because he wanted to know more specifics.
Premium Parking, a parking system, contacted City Manager Kristi Luger and asked if the system would work for the city, said Scott Richards, the city’s planning consultant.
The trial will last six months and the system software is in place. According to Richards, the trial period will begin when the signs are installed, around the end of the first week of March.
The existing parking system on Lake Street uses kiosks. Those will remain and be under a separate system, Richards said.
How the new system works
People can take a picture of the QR code with their smartphone to go to the Premium Parking app. Or people can text the location number to 504504 and it will take them to the same system. In the app, they can enter their license plate and credit card information.
People who frequently park in Excelsior may wish to download the app onto their phone. Those users can enter their credit card information, which is securely stored, Richards said.
Premium Parking primarily manages parking lots and ramps. The parking system is used for a portion of the Target parking lot used for events at Allianz Field.
Richards has downloaded the app on his phone and said it’s easy and logical to use. The city doesn’t have to buy expensive kiosks so for a trial program this works out very well, he said. If it doesn’t work, the signs come down and parking goes back to normal unless the city decides to stick with the old system and purchase more kiosks, he added.
Cost to the city
There is a cost of less than $2,000 for the temporary signs, Richards said. If the city decides to go with Premium Parking, they would install permanent signs. There is a monthly cost to run the parking software, but it is minimal and the city should be able to recoup costs quickly, he said.
City staff members will report back to the council at the end of the trial on how it’s working, the revenue and complaints. Then it’s up to the council, Richards said.
According to Mayor Todd Carlson, it is challenging as a small city because they don’t receive much funding from the state. Excelsior needs to forge its own path to generate revenue and paid parking is a way to do that. The city is trying to find a balance between getting additional sources of revenue while not negatively impacting residents and businesses, he said.
“We are hoping to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic and get back to normal,” Carlson said.
The motivation to do the trial is to get an idea on how things look for the community. With some parking lot and improvement projects in the future, it’s a good time for the city to get an idea for how it can better pay for them, he added.
The city will manage enforcement as the trial goes, Carlson said. At this time, the city doesn’t have plans to involve the South Lake Minnetonka Police Department for enforcement, he said. The project will primarily be getting an idea of what parking spots are being used.
Excelsior still provides a lot of free parking in town, Carlson said. Water Street, the east and west parking lots and some church and school parking lots are free.
If the paid parking trial goes well, the city will reevaluate in the fall and might tighten up the location for the parking and formalize something going into next year, Carlson said.
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