JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - After months spent planning for the city’s pilot parking meter program to launch in Fondren, city officials reversed course and now will debut the tech-savvy meters on a downtown street instead, more than four months behind schedule.
“We have to establish some policies and agreements for [Fondren] and how we implement that,” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said. “We already have meters on Capitol Street, and so where, we have some things pre-established in that area.”
The decision to switch pilot locations had not been previously mentioned by city leaders familiar with the parking meter project in any previous statements from the city or Mukesh Kumar, director of planning and development for Jackson.
A 3 On Your Side investigation last year highlighted the inherent problems with the city’s existing meters and featured an interview with Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine, who outlined some of the parameters of the parking meter project, which would include the ability of the meter to handle credit cards and establish payment through a smartphone app.
In September, Blaine told WLBT that the city’s new parking meters would be installed in phases, with the pilot phase taking place in Fondren tentatively by the end of February 2019.
After that deadline came and went with no construction progress, city communications director Candice Cole said the project “has been slightly delayed in an effort to make this process inclusive of the community."
Kumar also released a statement through the city which highlighted “a few community concerns” as the reason for the delay.
“We felt the need to consider all aspects of a parking meter upgrade for parking meters in Jackson, including the variety of parking usage based on activity and purpose, data collection, appropriate fee structure, turnover expectations, surrounding land use, current status, enforcement process, maintenance and expected outcomes,” Kumar said. “We are very close to making our parking meter upgrade project public along with scheduling public meetings.”
Blaine’s September interview also revealed that the city planned to issue a request for proposals regarding the parking meter project in October, but that item didn’t make its way before the Jackson City Council until Nov. 20, 2018, and the vendors from that request did not go forward.
Lumumba said the city will seek another RFP to attract a company that can satisfy their requirements for the new meters, though most of those requirements have not been finalized and expects that to happen soon, though no specific date was given.