The Fort Myers Beach town council has authorized town manager Roger Hernstadt to spend $120,000 on a new parking app that some on the council believe will help alleviate the heavy traffic issues on the island.
A company called Civic Smart will install sensors at all 378 of the town’s parking spaces. The sensors will be placed on the poles that are now located in each town parking spot. The sensors communicate to an app to let drivers looking for a parking spot know if the spot is available or occupied.
After the initial $120,000 cost for the system to be installed in all the spots, there’s an annual cost to taxpayers of $16,000. The town will use money it’s been collecting from increased parking fees. Earlier this year, the cost to park in a town spot was raised from $3.00 per hour to $5.00 per hour.
The hope is that giving drivers an option to find a parking spot quicker will get them off the roads faster and alleviate traffic. Drivers looking for a place to park on the beach must know about the app, download it, and use it to find a spot. Councilman Dan Allers voted against spending the money on the app at this time. He said, “I don’t see a majority of people downloading the app to use it. Now is not the right time to spend this money.”
Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafross said, “We told people we were doing this. It will become popular. It will help with traffic.”
The town is hoping private lots will join the town system to increase the number of spots on the app. Private lot owners would have to pay for the sensors.
The town currently uses the Passport app to make paying for a spot more convenient for drivers. That app also communicates with town code enforcement officers who are notified the second a car goes over its time limit so the town can immediately reward a driver with a ticket. Hernstadt did not say whether the current Passport payment parking app will be integrated into the new sensor system or if a new app will need to be downloaded by drivers.