MOUNT PLEASANT — After a four-year experiment, this town is out of the parking meter business.
A town crew removed its 10 parking kiosks Wednesday from one of its most popular public places, Waterfront Memorial Park.
Town Council voted 7-2 recently to get rid of the town’s only paid municipal parking, and Mayor Billy Swails applauded the change.
“We’re not making any money,” he said Wednesday. “If we made a ton of money, that would be a different story.”
Motorists were supposed to pay 50 cents for every hour they planned to park there, but the kiosks brought in only about $50,000 last year. Swails said they needed about $40,000 in maintenance.
Town Councilwoman Linda Page, who took office after the meters were installed in 2009, said she felt they sent the wrong message.
“I think metered parking is to control the amount of time someone stays in a parking space,” she said. “That’s not our intent at Waterfront Park. We want people to come and stay.”
Page also said police enforcement of the parking system seemed spotty —and the income just went to the general fund rather than to improving the park, which she called one of the town’s most beautiful. “The fact that you had to pay to park just seemed like a negative message,” she added. “How often do we get rid of a fee, a fine or a tax? What a joy that is.”
Before lunch Wednesday, a crew of three unbolted the 300-pound kiosks, lifted them into a pick-up truck and hauled them away.
Town Administrator Eric DeMoura said the town plans to sell them to resell them to another municipality or parking company.
Wednesday’s work was done with relatively little fanfare.
“Two dollars for parking for the day isn’t bad,” said Craig Burgess, who occasionally fishes off the pier. “But it’s nice to park free, too.”
Jane Fleming, who saw some of the work going on, agreed, “It’s always nice when you can find free parking.”
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.