Mike and Patti Beckwith, who were visiting Fort Williams from Sydney, Australia, last week, use a pay-to-park kiosk. Revenue from the first season look promising, according to officials. Jenny Ibsen/For The Forecaster

CAPE ELIZABETH – Three months after pay-and-display parking was launched at Fort Williams Park, the town is well on its way to meeting its initial $300,000 goal for the seven-month season.

Councilors unanimously approved the program in May to begin in July for nonresidents. The 10 pay-and-display meters were installed in five “premium” areas of the park, covering 280 parking spaces near Portland Head Light. Fees will be collected from May 1 to  Nov. 1, Parking remains free for Cape residents.

Since the July 1 rollout, the paid parking has grossed $247,000 through the summer, with $166,000 as net revenue for the town during that time. This collection season will include June of next year as well.

The initial estimated gross revenue was $396,000 for the seven-month season, with 20%, or $79,000, retained by the parking management service Unified Parking Partners during the three-month period. The initial extimated net revenue to the town was $317,000 for the full seven months.

“Other than the first day, it went very smoothly,” said Kathy Ratfice, director of Community Services and Fort Williams Park, in a phone interview Oct. 1. The meters were not operational on the first day of implementation, but were functional the next day.

“The money has come in as expected and it will be utilized to assist the maintenance of the fort as well as the taxpayers,” Ratfice said.

Parking costs $2 an hour with a two-hour minimum from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 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.

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. Town Manager Matthew Sturgis previously said the high number of nonresident visitors, in conjunction with the need to offset operating costs of the park, were the main reasons for the decision to introduce parking fees.

The program was first considered in June 2018, when the Fort Williams Park Committee was tasked with creating a proposal for the program. Last November,  Sturgis issued a request for proposals from parking management companies that would provide equipment and agents to enforce pay-and-display parking.

At the May 13 town meeting, Sturgis was directed by the Council to negotiate an agreement with the parking vendor Unified Parking Partners. By June, the town traffic regulations were updated by the Council to allow for parking fees at Fort Williams.

The pay-and-display parking program was adopted seamlessly by the public, Sturgis said. The town plans to analyze the successes and challenges of the parking program before next season.

“The first season has been successful and we still have a month left before it’s all said and done,” said Sturgis. “I’ve anticipated that we will meet and exceed our goal.”

Comments are not available on this story.