New cashless parking kiosks in Newburgh draw criticism
CITY OF NEWBURGH — When the city replaced aging coin-operated parking meters with cashless parking kiosks, it sparked conversations across Newburgh about the potential ramifications.
“A lot of things that are done to potentially simplify and improve our lives in the age of technology can be really awesome,” said Kellyann Kostyal-Larrier, Executive Director of Fearless! Hudson Valley. “But certainly they can also have unforeseen consequences or risks for victims, survivors and others.”
Without fear! Hudson Valley is a non-profit organization based in Orange County with an office in Newburgh that provides a variety of services for victims of domestic violence.
“Like phones and GPS tracking devices, these are the types of technology that create all sorts of breadcrumb trails leading to our location…Having to use some kind of app or credit card creates a breadcrumb trail. ‘Additional Ariane that you never had to factor in with the quarterback,’ she says.
Kostyal-Larrier and others said they understand the need for new parking meters, but the lack of a cash option could negatively impact domestic violence victims, low-income people, undocumented immigrants and anyone who does not have a bank account.
“I’m just worried that not everyone has the ability to use or access a credit card or have a bank account. It can certainly be an obstacle and a challenge for anyone, whether or not they are victims of violence,” said Kostyal-Larrier.
Installation of new meters
The city has been considering cashless parking meters for more than three years, according to Mayor Torrance Harvey.
“We had 780 meters all over the town of Newburgh, so metering the town isn’t something new, but 85-90% of the meters weren’t working,” Harvey said. “We had to replace them because the revenue was so minimal it was almost zero.”
After three years of conversations, feasibility studies and research, Harvey said the city finally installed the new parking meters in the commercial corridor along Broadway, Grand, Liberty and Prospect streets on August 8. There are also kiosks located at the boat launch on River Route.
The kiosks are operated by the Passport company and can be paid for by card or via the Passport smartphone app. The new system charges 25 cents every 15 minutes plus an additional 15 cents.
Revenue from the new meters, Harvey said, will be used to fund a variety of programs, including youth programs, street sweeping programs, housing programs and employment programs.
“If we can innovatively and creatively create new revenue streams or improve existing revenue streams, such as a parking meter program, we can continue to improve and revitalize our city,” he said.
The decision to go with fully cashless kiosks run by a third-party provider, Harvey said, also eliminates any risk of city employees stealing coins or mismanaging cash.
The new cashless parking system, Kostyal-Larrier said, is undeniably convenient for many people. Paying through an app or with a card can eliminate common inconveniences, like struggling to find change or having to return to the car to add more time to the meter.
However, Kostyal-Larrier pointed out that the new counters could pose a threat to victims of domestic violence. Some abusers, she said, have access to their partner’s bank account and could use this new payment system to keep tabs on their partner’s location.
“It’s just an extra layer for victims who are often stalked, harassed and pursued by their current or former intimate partner,” Kostyal-Larrier said. “So I think the most important thing is that if that’s the direction we’re going, we need to mitigate to the best of our abilities some of the additional risks that might be introduced to victims and survivors.”
At Fearless!, Kostyal-Larrier said this means the organization now plans to discuss alternative parking options with those seeking service at the Newburgh office and explain the pros and cons of paying by card or through an app.
Michele McKeon, chief operating officer of the nonprofit Regional Economic Community Action Program (RECAP), said the new payment system could also pose problems for people with low incomes or who cannot get cards. banking.
“We support, of course, bringing revenue into the city, but we don’t want it to come on the backs of the people who can least afford it and are likely to use it the most,” McKeon said. .
People may not have bank accounts or credit cards for a variety of reasons, McKeon said, including bad credit, lack of proper identification or insufficient income.
Longtime Newburgh resident Lisa Tompkins said she preferred the old coin-operated parking meters to the new cashless kiosks.
“I know it’s gentrification,” she said. “What if you don’t have enough money to get a card? Looks like they’re pushing people out.”
Mikey Jackson, the owner of 2 Alices Coffee Lounge on Broadway, said he supports updating the city’s parking meters, but believes there are several issues that need to be addressed before the new metering program is perfected. .
Since the new parking meters went live earlier this month, Harvey said he was shocked to hear many people worry about the potential impact of the cashless system on victims of domestic violence, people without bank account and others.
While it’s frustrating that those concerns haven’t been raised sooner, Harvey said, he wants the parking meters to work for as many people as possible.
“We serve the will of the people here. Nothing is set in stone. This is why we were elected: to listen and serve the people,” he said.
Erin Nolan is an investigative reporter for the Times Herald-Record and USA Today Network. Contact her at [email protected]