The City and Borough of Juneau is looking to the courts to help it reclaim more than $500,000 that was funneled into its failed downtown parking meters during the last three years.
The city announced Friday that it was officially cancelling its contract with Aparc Systems. City Manager Kim Kiefer told the Empire the city decided the parking provider’s solutions to fix issues with the meters was no longer good enough.
“We’re done with trying,” Kiefer said. “We need to have a system that operates by the contract we all signed.”
Aparc was notified of the city’s intention to cancel the contract in early November when company representatives came to Juneau to work on the machines. In a Nov. 12 letter, Aparc requested the city delay terminating the contract until next summer so the company could come up with a better solution.
An email exchange between Aparc representatives and Kiefer ensued, but yielded no satisfactory results, Kiefer said.
“We still have nothing concrete in terms of how they’re going to get us what we need and what was promised in the contract,” she said.
Also in its Nov. 12 letter, Aparc cited bandwidth frequency and signal strength in the downtown corridor as one of the factors hurting the system’s performance, but that logic didn’t go very far with city officials.
“We contracted for someone to have a system installed in Juneau,” Kiefer said. “It’s up to them to make it work with the infrastructure that’s available. It’s the contractor’s responsibility.”
A copy of the city’s filing with the Juneau Superior Court was not immediately available Friday. However, in the city’s letter to Aparc notifying the company that the contract would be terminated effective Jan. 1, 2014, it states: “CBJ believes Aparc has violated the Alaska Unfair Trade Practices Act in addition to having breached its contract.”
“Aparc has not met its obligations, promises and warranties under the contract, despite the CBJ’s patience in allowing Aparc two years to deliver the services and product it promised...” the letter continues.
Until an interim system is installed sometime in January, there will be a “parking holiday” downtown for on-street parking, though visitors are asked to limit their time to two hours so others can use the parking spaces in the core as well.
Loading zone, one-hour and 15-minute parking spaces will still be enforced as usual, and passes will still be needed for the downtown parking garages.
“Our message is, ‘Come downtown and don’t worry about the parking meters,’” Kiefer said. “Enjoy eating, shopping and walking around.”
Kiefer said the plan is to have a permanent solution in place within a year.
“We’ll continue to keep the community informed as we transition into a long-term, temporary parking plan. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be replacing parking signs, covering existing parking meters, creating new hourly parking areas and installing coin parking pay stations,” Kiefer said in a news release announcing the termination.
Hour parking passes will not be available in the garages once the Aparc system goes offline on Jan. 1, but regulars downtown will still be able to purchase weekly or monthly garage parking passes from the city.
Kiefer will begin working with the Assembly over the next few months to find a new parking solution for downtown Juneau.
“There’s a wide range of options out there,” Kiefer said, “and yes, the two hours of free, on-street parking is staying a priority.”