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Dobbs Ferry News

New-Fangled Meter App Riles Dobbs Parkers

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July 26, 2022

By Lily McInerney—

Patricia Berman, a Dobbs Ferry resident of 11 years, worries that her husband won’t be able to park downtown anymore. He’s used to putting coins in the meters that lined the streets, but now he can pay only with his smartphone—that is, after he downloads an app.

Without a lot of fanfare—and certainly not much notice, the village has adopted a new parking system, ParkMobile, that requires anyone parking on village streets to use a smartphone (assuming they have one) and download the ParkMobile app that allows them to pay online through a credit card.

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Many Dobbs Ferry residents are infuriated. Marcia Brown, a village resident who lives far enough from downtown that she needs to drive there, says she plans to stop coming to the village’s business district because of ParkMobile.

“I think the new parking app requirement was kind of sprung on us,” says Berman, “though frankly I don’t really follow local politics that closely so maybe not, but we did not know about it.”

Other practical questions emerged as well. How, for instance, would drivers from other villages or even other states pay for parking spaces and avoid fines? Would they have to download ParkMobile before coming to Dobbs?

Some even saw a social justice component to the parking app controversy. Milo Dolan, a server at the Parlor, a village pizza restaurant, said, “I do not like this new policy. It seems like gentrification to me.”

Cost is almost certainly a factor. Downloading the app may be free, but a smartphone is not. According to the German data company Statista, the average price of a smartphone in 2022 is $553.52.

Robert Distefano, a Dobbs Ferry resident of 50 years, said, “I think replacing 3G meters with the newer 5G-capable meters isn’t cost effective. Those funds can be utilized more efficiently elsewhere. I feel the parking situation can be remedied with other ideas.”

The driving force behind the adoption of the parking app was its promise of cost savings for the village and by extension taxpayers. “By choosing ParkMobile,” said the Board of Trustees in a statement, “we are saving taxpayers close to $200,000 in upfront costs for new kiosks and up to $50,000 in annual fees and maintenance costs.”The Board was also informed that the United States was phasing out the 3G cellular technology that previous meters used to take credit card payments.

The uproar is causing the Trustees to revisit the issue. In reaction to complaints, Dobbs Ferry Mayor Vincent Rossillo plans to review the situation, hire a parking consultant and institute a partial meter moratorium. “We voted to allow free two-hour parking on Main and Cedar Streets until 8/31/22,” he wrote in response to an email inquiry. “Our goal is to make the parking process as user friendly and cost effective as possible without having anegative effect on our budget. We haven’t made any final decisions regarding parking.”

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