City’s parking-meter card on its way to Old Colorado City

       The “Easy Park” card, which the City Parking System implemented last year in the downtown, will be coming to Old Colorado City this spring.
       The card will give space-seeking motorists an option other than a pocketful of coins, as well as the bonus of paying for no more than the actual amount of parking time, Colorado Springs Parking Administrator Greg Warnke explained in recent presentations to the two main business entities in the historic shopping area - the Security & Maintenance District Advisory Committee and Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group board of directors.
       “It's been very well received downtown,” he said.
       Parking meters will be retrofitted to allow the use of cards in addition to coins. The parking costs will stay the same.
       Easy Park cards need to be bought in advance. The $10 cost puts that value in parking time on the card. There is no expiration date. Cards can be purchased online or at the Parking Office, 30 S. Nevada Ave., Suite 504 (phone is 385-5681). They can be “recharged” back to $10 at the Parking System Office or at automated sidewalk kiosks (currently only downtown).
       One such kiosk (described by Warnke as about the size of a mailbox) will be located in Old Colorado City. He has asked committee and board members for suggestions on a good spot. Two candidates so far are in front of the library in the 2500 block of Pikes Peak Avenue or on the north side of Colorado Avenue's 2500 block.
       He predicted May 1 as the date that the system will be “ready to go” at the 137 paid parking spaces in Old Town. The area represents part of Phase 2 of the Easy Park implementation (the main downtown was Phase 1). Phase 3, anticipated in 2009, will cover all the other parking meters in town, Warnke said.
       Unaffected by the changes will be the city lot at 26th and Cucharras streets, which is chiefly used by long-term parkers. It will continue to accept only coins in its meters, Warnke said.
       The way the cards work, a person swiping his or her card is credited with the maximum amount of parking time the meter allows (assuming the person's card has that much value left on it); however, unused time can later be “unswiped.” For example, if a card is used on a two-hour meter, it will show two hours of time, with the matching cost ($2) charged to the user's card. But if the card owner only needs the parking space for one hour, another swipe of the card will adjust the cost to $1, reflecting the actual time of use.
       One constraint of the card is that it can't be used twice in a row at the same meter. The idea is to create turnover in parking spaces, which merchants prefer, Warnke said.
       Board member Sharon Wolff said she will be giving parking cards to her customers as a goodwill gesture. Other merchants said they expect to have cards of their own that they can loan to customers whose meters might be running out.
       OCCA President Jim Heikes said Old Colorado City is fortunate to have three free public parking lots - the downtown has no free parking - “but people do park on the streets, so we might as well take care of them.”

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