Visitors walk past a parking meter at Fort Williams Park that wasn’t working July 1, the day pay-and-display parking was supposed to be implemented. Krysteana Scribner / The Forecaster

CAPE ELIZABETH — Visitors at Fort Williams were surprised to find some pay-and-display kiosks were out of service July 1, the day seasonal parking fees were set to go into effect.

The 10 kiosks, installed in five areas of the park, cover 280 parking spaces close to the water and Portland Head Light. Two of them, in the parking lot closest to the lighthouse and at Ship Cove, were out of order Monday.

A sign inside the entrance to Fort Williams Park on July 1 alerts visitors that parking now comes at a cost. Krysteana Scribner / The Forecaster

“The meters were supposed to be up and running as of noon July 1, but they were having some technical problems with at least three of them,” Kathy Raftice, director of the park and Community Services, said Tuesday.

But as of July 2, Raftice said, all the kiosks were working. She added that contractor Unified Parking Partners of Portland, which employs its own personnel to enforce the pay-and-display rules, are trying to be lenient the first few days to give people a chance to understand how the new parking system works.

“This is a process, so we’re giving people time to understand how to use the system and be informed about the paid parking,” Raftice said. “… That gives us time to work out the kinks.”

Parking costs $2 an hour with a two-hour minimum from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., May 1-Nov. 1. A full-day pass costs $10 and a season pass is $15; passes can be purchased by credit card only at meters inside the park. Acceptable methods of payment at the kiosks for hourly parking include cash and debit and credit cards; coins cannot be used.

Residents can park for free if they display a current Recycling Center permit, and parking in the rear of the park near the playground, Children’s Garden and Officers’ Row will remain free.

According to Town Manager Matthew Sturgis, the town expects revenue of $317,000 from parking fees in the 2020 fiscal year, or 80 percent of the $396,000 total; Unified Parking Partners will retain 20 percent, estimated at $79,000.

This parking kiosk, in the parking lot closest to Portland Headlight at Fort Williams Park, was out of order on July 1, the day parking fees were supposed to go into effect. Krysteana Scribner / The Forecaster

He said $532,000 is budgeted to be spent on the park in the fiscal year 2020. Raftice said the paid parking will help defray that cost. According to the town website, the money will be used primarily for operational expenses at the park, long-term capital needs for the town, and general municipal operating expenses.

The town estimates the park attracts 900,000 annual visitors, with 60 percent from out-of-state, according to a license plate census conducted over the past year. Sturgis said that, in conjunction with the need to offset operating costs of the park, were the main reasons for the decision to introduce parking fees.

He said the town will re-evaluate the parking program in July 2020.

New Hampshire resident Sarah Szymkowski, who was visiting the park for the day Monday, said when she arrived the meters weren’t working. She said it seems like a well-maintained park and she had no objection to paying for parking.

“Paying for parking, it’s like any other state park … and being (from) out-of-state, I have no problem paying to come here, it’s almost like my duty as a visitor,” Szymkowski said. “If I lived here I would still be willing to pay. It’s great here.”

New Jersey residents Brett and Jasmine Knaus said the parking kiosk wasn’t working for them, either. Jasmine said people shouldn’t have to pay to park, while Brett said $2 parking for nonresidents isn’t that big a deal.

“They have to enforce it at least, because if not, no one is going to pay,” he said . “But $2 for parking isn’t bad at all, especially when you’re paying $18 for a lobster roll.”

Massachusetts resident Tim Avangelist, said he has Fort Williams with his family for 12 years, has seen the park improve and thinks paid parking is an appropriate move.

“As long as the money is being reinvested into the park for upkeep and the area community, I don’t mind paying,” Avangelist said. “The price is reasonable, I have no problem with it.”

Paid parking and entrance fees have been topic of discussion in Cape Elizabeth for several years.

In November 2018, Sturgis, issued a request for proposals from parking management companies to provide equipment and agents to enforce parking rules.

On May 6, the Town Council voted 7-0 to move forward after Unified Parking Partners submitted the only proposal; councilors voted unanimously to authorize the partnership on May 13.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.