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Aparc says city cancelling parking contract

Posted: December 12, 2013 - 1:12am

The City and Borough of Juneau intends to cancel its failed contract with Aparc Systems as it continues to look for solutions to the city’s downtown parking woes, according to a letter from Aparc.

In a Nov. 12 letter to city officials, the California-based parking systems provider asked the Assembly to reconsider its decision to terminate the contract.

An email conversation about possible solutions has continued between Aparc Vice-President of Operations Steven Womack, the signee of the letter, and Juneau City Manager Kim Kiefer since Nov. 25. The most recent message was sent by Kiefer Wednesday.

It is unclear, however, if the contract will officially be axed — and if so, when — but the city Assembly did instruct Kiefer to convey their frustration with the company, Assembly member Mary Becker said.

“I’m not sure if its been cancelled. (Kiefer) may have said, ‘OK one more try, one more chance,’” Becker said. “We’re definitely not wanting to stay with them if they don’t come through and do something. There’s no reason for us to.”

City officials entered the contract with Aparc in September of 2010, and since then the meters have failed to work as advertised and have cost taxpayers nearly half-a-million dollars.

The letter from Aparc describes what Juneau is left with as, “a system that they paid good money for, has minimal salvage value and has no means of revenue generation.”

It faults the bulk of the system’s failure on AT&T and the absence of the lower frequency bandwidth that the pay stations downtown are designed to use.

The parking meters would allow users to pay for time by registering their license plate numbers, which would be wirelessly transferred to a central database and handheld devices used by parking enforcement personnel. The system would provide up to two hours of free parking while preventing drivers from exploiting the system by simply moving to a new spot.

However, the communication between the kiosks, database and handheld devices could be delayed by almost an hour, so it was impossible to tell if a car is over its time limit or not, Kiefer said previously.

In the letter, the company asks the city for one more chance to present ideas for fixing the problem “before Aparc is officially notified in writing of the contract termination.”

The letter closes by saying the company will respectfully part with the city if Aparc has not provided sufficient improvements by next July.

For at least one Assembly member, that solution “wasn’t even close to acceptable.”

“I can’t speak for my colleagues on this, but the only solution Aparc could’ve offered to satisfy me would be to get their machines and system running as advertised immediately, at no charge (beyond the contracted annual maintenance fee.),” Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl told the Empire in an email.

A call to Mayor Merrill Sanford seeking comment could not be returned as of press time.

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