Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008

University Town Center to get on-street parking meters

Metered parking will create more spaces for shoppers

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The Hyattsville City Council voted Monday evening to acquire and operate meters for about 58 on-street parking spaces at the University Town Center.

The city will spend $30,000 for the acquisition and operation of the meters. Chris Hanessian, senior vice president of UTC, said he hoped the meters would be up in the next few months.

At a Jan. 22 council meeting, City Administrator Elaine Murphy said staff researched three potential parking meters, but will most likely purchase the meters from Arkansas-based POM Inc.

Each single-headed meter corresponds to two parking spaces. When the driver puts money in the meter, he or she can select the parking space to the right or left of the meter, Murphy said. Each meter can hold $68 to $118.

‘‘The meters are very sophisticated,” she said. ‘‘They have a lot of safety features on them so they are less likely to be tampered with.”

The meters, which were requested by UTC developers, will be installed along America Boulevard, Freedom Way and Liberty Lane. UTC owns the streets but Hyattsville is in charge of monitoring and enforcing street parking, including ticketing for cars illegally parked in front of a fire hydrant or in a handicapped spot.

University Town Center is a mixed-use redevelopment project that will include residential, retail and office space near the University of Maryland ,College Park and next to the Prince George’s Plaza Metro Station. The Hyattsville Royale movie theater opened in June, Qdoba Mexican Grill opened in September and Smoothie King in November. Five Guys restaurant opened in December and Three Brothers Italian Restaurant opened in January.

UTC requested the meters to give residents who live nearby the ability to park in front of a store and get what they need quickly. Hanessian said the meters are away of controlling the on-street parking and making it convenient for people who just want to grab something from one of the restaurants.

‘‘People can park on the street for 10 or 15 minutes, grab a pizza and go,” he said. ‘‘We don’t want people to come and park on the street all day.”

UTC will hire contractors to place the poles for the meters, but the city will reimburse UTC for the pole installation, purchase the meters and install them. The city will also receive the revenues from the meters.

Currently UTC has posted short-term parking signs, but meters will be a way to more effectively monitor on-street parking, said Mayor William Gardiner in November.

Parking for the town center is also available in two parking garages with about 2,500 parking spaces. The first two hours of parking are free, each hour after that is $4. People visiting the town center’s movie theater, Hyattsville Royale 14, pay $1 for the first four hours of parking.

Gardiner said the rates and timings of the meters have not been determined.

‘‘The agreement between UTC and the city has not yet been finalized, but it envisions that both parties will collaborate on setting the hours, rates, minimum [and] maximum period, temporary removal from operation and other rules,” he said.

E-mail Maya T. Prabhu at