FREEHOLD — The members of the Borough Council have appropriated $720,000 to fund capital improvements related to the institution of metered parking in Freehold Borough.
During a meeting on Sept. 6, council members adopted a bond ordinance that will appropriate $720,000 for use by the Borough Parking Utility, which manages the town’s parking operations. The appropriation consists of $684,000 in bonds or notes and a down payment of $36,000.
In response to a request for a comment, Mayor Kevin Kane told the News Transcript, “Freehold Borough is implementing a comprehensive parking management system in order to maximize the use and availability of our limited parking resources.
“During peak times, our professionals have found that our core parking areas were
maxed out while other available parking areas went underused.
“Having a parking management system will help regulate the availability of spaces in our
high-demand commercial downtown area and free up spaces for business patrons, and
is fully supported by our Downtown Freehold business community,” the mayor said.
“The majority of our parking spaces will remain free for use by persons visiting the
borough. Out of 1,521 available parking spaces in our downtown area, 465 spaces will be paid parking and 1,056 spaces will remain free.
“Having paid parking will ensure that the people who use our parking lots pay their fair
share for the availability and maintenance of these facilities instead of having our
property taxpayers and senior citizens bear this cost.
“The parking utility will provide a source of revenue to maintain and improve our parking resources. The borough has been studying this issue for years; it is time for action,” Kane said.
Jeff Friedman, the executive director of the Freehold Center Management Corporation (DowntownFreehold.com), said the organization “has long supported the implementation of a user pay parking plan that will both fund parking lot maintenance and improvements going forward and encourage people to use the ample free parking off Lafayette Place.
“Since everyone agrees the public parking lots must be maintained and improved, then we as a community only have two options, either the taxpayers of Freehold Borough pay for the parking lot maintenance and improvements, or the users of the parking lots pay for it.
“It should be noted that of the over 1,500 parking spots in Downtown Freehold only about 500 will be paid parking spots and those are in the most congested lots – the McGackin Triangle, the Market Yard, the parking lot at the new Borough Hall on Mechanic Street, as well as along Main Street and South Street.
“We hope the plan will encourage more people to use the free parking around the Monmouth County Hall of Records and on Lafayette Place, and therefore reduce the congestion in the Market Yard, the McGackin Triangle and new Borough Hall lots,” Friedman said.
According to the bond ordinance, parking management system improvements include the acquisition of meters, spare coin vaults, printers, batteries, modems, pay-by-app set-up, virtual permitting system set-up, vehicle-mounted license plate recognition bundles, two enforcement vehicles, in-vehicle Toughbook laptop computers with ticket writers, accessories, citation management system set-up, meter communication and back office functions, software licenses, and data plan for new devices.
The parking management system improvements will also include parking signs, lighting shelters and pavement repairs, and an engineering and technical assistance and marketing/public information program.
According to the ordinance, $100,000 will fund the resurfacing of the McGackin Triangle parking lot off South Street.
Funds will also be used for a comprehensive land survey and property report regarding the Market Yard parking lot that may be accessed from Main, Center and Mechanic streets.
The Borough Parking Utility was established four years ago. The parking utility is an enterprise from which a municipality anticipates it will receive fees, rents and/or other charges.
Officials said that under state statute, Freehold Borough is permitted to establish a public parking system to manage the parking operations of all public on-street and off-street parking facilities. The utility will maintain and operate the public parking system.
In creating the utility, council members determined a public parking system would promote the public safety and welfare for residents and visitors and said it was in the best interests of Freehold Borough to establish the utility to manage the parking operations.
The parking utility will be responsible for enforcing all laws, ordinances, rules and regulations applicable to the public parking system. It will have the authority to construct, maintain, improve and operate the public parking system in the borough. The utility will be under the administration, operation and control of the borough administrator.
The division that is responsible for maintenance, construction and improvement of all capital operations of the utility will be under the supervision of the superintendent of the Department of Streets and Roads.
Parking enforcement officers will be under the direction and supervision of the police chief.
All money derived from the operation or support of a municipal public utility will be kept in a separate fund for accounting and budgetary purposes, according to municipal officials.
The mayor, with the advice and consent of a majority of the council, will have the full authority to appoint all necessary employees to the parking utility, including the parking enforcement officers under the direction and supervision of the police chief.
After the bond ordinance was adopted, resident Richard Gartz, who formerly worked as the borough’s chief financial officer, thanked the council members for moving forward with the parking utility, but questioned how the bond ordinance would be funded.
Citing financial documents he reviewed, Gartz said the borough did not have the money to finance the bond ordinance.
“(The bond ordinance) isn’t as adopted as you (council members) think it is because you don’t have the money,” he said. “You need to get your documents straight.”
Councilman George Schnurr, who chairs the council’s finance committee, emphasized that the bond ordinance would be entirely funded by the parking utility.
Schnurr also said Freehold Borough would be receiving new revenue in the future from sources such as cannabis businesses and redevelopment projects.