By Mary Thurwachter
Shortly after returning from his Hawaiian vacation, Vice Mayor Lynn Moorhouse went to the beach for brunch at the Dune Deck. The local dentist had no complaints about food, but what he saw in the parking lot had him clenching his teeth.
“We have a major problem with the kiosks,” Moorhouse said at the Aug. 25 Lantana Town Council meeting. “People couldn’t make them work and some were just leaving to go somewhere else. That’s gonna cost us money if we don’t address it.”
This year, after the beach parking lot was renovated to curb flooding problems, two parking kiosks were installed to replace rusty meters.
“There have been some issues,” Town Manager Deborah Manzo said of the kiosks, including one getting jammed. Eventually, the kiosks will accept credit cards, but that feature won’t be functioning for a few weeks, she said.
John Caruso of the Dune Deck restaurant said some of his customers are angry about parking difficulties and have threatened not to return. He said the restaurant even has lost a star on Yelp, an online business review site, since the parking issues surfaced.
Caruso said disabled people have to pay for parking now and that some have to go all the way up the ramp to the restaurant to get change and then back to feed the kiosks. “We need to help them out or we’re going to lose them all,” Caruso said. “I don’t have the solution, but it needs a Band-Aid right now.”
The council talked about adding a third kiosk to shorten the waiting-to-pay lines and to compensate when one kiosk is on the blink, or perhaps returning the present kiosks for something else.
“But please, don’t go back to coin-only meters,” council member Phil Aridas, a longtime proponent of credit card-only meters, said. “Meters don’t work.”
The fine for not paying to park is $50, and some council members suggested suspending that fee while kiosk problems persist. Mayor Dave Stewart said he didn’t want to go that far, but that law enforcement may “temporarily have some blinders on.”
In the meantime, Manzo and the police chief were instructed to look into solutions, which could include adding a third kiosk, replacing present kiosks, posting signs that tell beachgoers to let lifeguards know about kiosk malfunctions — and that both kiosks can be used for the entire lot.
Those who need change to feed the kiosks can usually find it at the Dune Deck. Caruso said he always stocks up on quarters and doesn’t mind helping out.
In other business, the council learned that the $92,000 budget deficit, which the town had planned to cover with money from its reserves, no longer exists. “Most of the balance is due to increased revenues and lower property and casualty insurance premiums than what was anticipated,” Manzo said. “Also, we are no longer paying for the previous attorney’s (Corbett and White) health insurance, which was just over $15,000.”
By Mary Thurwachter