A wireless parking kiosk in York Beach during the summer months. Credit: Isabelle Halle | The York Weekly

Continuing kinks in the town’s parking kiosk system are being worked out, and selectmen this winter will consider purchasing more of them for the southern end of Long Beach Avenue — where initial indications are that signal strength is strong.

Hectronic Inc. recently shipped a test kiosk to York, which Hectronic USA president Steve Snyder put on a dolly and wheeled to specific proposed locations south of the Sun ’n Surf restaurant. That area has been serviced by parking meters.

“All the readings were strong, probably 10 points stronger than north of the Sun ’n Surf,” said Public Works Director Dean Lessard. And there’s reason for that. If someone stands along that section of road and looks back, “you can physically see the Verizon tower” at the old police station. “The site lines are that much better.”

The northern end of Long Sands Beach presented problems from the day the kiosks were installed last spring. Among the issues, the kiosks used 3G technology and the Verizon tower is set up for 4G transmission; the signal strength from the tower was not as strong as Verizon had promised; card readers didn’t work on some of the kiosks and human error contributed to other problems.

To alleviate the signal problem, when Snyder was recently here he place an antenna on top of a lighted parking sign rising above the test kiosk. That antenna was able to get a strong signal from the tower, Lessard said. The lighted signs are encased, which would protect the antenna cable from the elements, he said. The town has not ordered these signs yet — a decision that would be up to the Board of Selectmen — “but at least we believe we have a reasonable solution.”

In the meantime, there will be discussions between the town and Hectronic about “who pays for what,” Lessard said. Funding for the signs could come out of public works or police operating budgets or the beach reserve account. It could be a combination of Hectronic paying for some of the costs, and the town paying for the remainder, he said.

As for the Ellis Park parking lot, Lessard said Snyder brought the test kiosk to various locations and found good connectivity throughout. Lessard conveyed that information to the Ellis Park trustees. Trustee Andy Furlong said they want to be assured all the kinks are worked out before they invest in the kiosks — probably a $60,000 expenditure.

Meanwhile, Lessard said, Verizon still needs to have a place at the table as discussions continue. Even if the antennas solve the kiosk problem, there’s still an issue with cellphone signals and thus with the ability envisioned by the town for beachgoers to put more money on their parking space from a cellphone app while they are on the beach.

“They didn’t give us a guarantee that the tower would solve the problem, but they gave us an expectation that service would improve,” he said. “The service should be better.”

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