Oak Bluffs financial advisers are exploring the possibility of adding paid parking through a mobile-based phone app in the downtown area as they look at different ways of generating revenue for the town.
Members of the Oak Bluffs Finance and Advisory Committee say the parking spots could generate just shy of a half million dollars during the summer season by charging $2.50 an hour for over 300 parking spaces they’ve identified in the area; they say that’s with little upfront costs.
“We would be remiss to not consider this, because it’s a huge revenue generator for the town,” advisory committee chair Sherry Countryman said.
The FinCom hasn’t officially recommended the idea, but committee members pitched it as a possibility during a joint meeting with the town’s select board last week. It’s part of their work to set goals for the year.
FinCom member Bob Malecki said he performed an informal “walking census” around the downtown area when looking into the parking suggestion. He identified close to 350 spaces the town could charge for parking through an app during the summer months. Those would be near Ocean Park, Circuit Avenue, and near Oak Bluffs Harbor. Malecki said that could be extended to town beaches.
Malecki said that there would be very little upfront costs on the idea, aside from signs advising customers about the app. The mobile-based app could charge people when they haven’t paid for additional time.
Malecki said that the Town of Tisbury has developed an app for their parking meters and says that it’s been working great.
There was some hesitation from some town officials at Thursday’s meeting. Town administrator Deborah Potter said that a comprehensive review of the parking would be required before making any changes. She said that parking is already limited for employees of local businesses. Potter recommended that the town’s Roads and Byways Committee be included in any discussions about the paid parking. Some FinCom members had expressed hesitation getting the advisory committee involved, noting that they meet infrequently.
Others present Thursday recommended that veterans, seniors, and residents be exempt from any chargers if the select board does pursue the proposal.
FinCom chair Sherry Countryman said that idea is not a recommendation at this point, but the committee wanted to pitch the proposal to the select board as a potential revenue generator.
The committee is also exploring consolidating some town departments, like staff at the library and the Council on Aging. Countryman also said that they are looking into charging a 3 percent community impact fee on short term rentals like AirBnBs.